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Mooney Crashes Into Power Lines in Gaithersburg, MD

Mooney Crashes Into Power Lines in Gaithersburg, MD


On Thursday, November 27, 2022, an MFC Corp Mooney M20J departed Westchester County Airport (HPN) in White Plains, New York at 3:00 p.m., before crashing and becoming entangled in power lines approximately two-and-a-half hours later. The aircraft was bound for Montgomery County Airpark (GAI) in Gaithersburg, MD.


Photo: Pete Piringer, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services | Twitter


On the approach to Montgomery County Airpark, restricted visibility became an issue for 65-year-old lawyer Patrick Merkle, the pilot flying. Weather conditions were reporting mist, fog, low visibility, and low cloud ceilings at the time requiring instrument flying conditions. The aircraft crashed into the power lines almost two miles northwest of the runway whilst on final.


Pete Piringer, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services | Twitter


The accident took place at 5:30 p.m. with both the pilot and passenger trapped inside while the aircraft was suspended on the power lines approximately 100 feet above the ground. It took emergency services in excess of seven hours to extricate the plane and its occupants with 120,000 homes left without power during the operation. Montgomery County schools were closed for the day with the entire rescue complete at 1:00 a.m. this morning. Both occupants sustained "serious" injuries according to Montgomery County Fire and EMS.




As of now, the NTSB is investigating the crash and estimates a preliminary report within three weeks. The NTSB says it will be focusing mainly on the pilot, the aircraft, and the environment at the time of the accident. No criminal activity or foul play is suspected as of yet.

Edwin Sims
Aviation Photographer

Comments (1)

Richard I have been talking about this for almost 20 years, with little success. The majority of wire strike accidents are not helicopters or crop dusters. The most common wire strike accident is a GA aircraft that is not doing low level work. With a fatality rate of over 50%. Gald everyone survived this one. The FAA updated the Private and Commercial PTSs in 2015 to include wire strike prevention, however they didn't provide any guidance to Examiners or instructors.
60d ago • Reply

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