According to reports, the Mooney Mike 20P single-engine aircraft went down into the power lines on Sunday around 5:30 p.m. in the Montgomery Village neighborhood of Gaithersburg near Rothbury Drive and Goshen Road.
According to Pete Piringer of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, the plane was suspended about 100 feet in the air, and it took about seven hours for the two people inside to be rescued at around 4:00 a.m. The plane wasn’t freed from the power lines and put back on the ground until Monday afternoon.
The Maryland State Police said the pilot was identified as Patrick Merkle, 65, of Washington, DC, and the passenger as Jan Williams, 66, of Louisiana. When Merkle and Williams dialed 911, the operators spoke with them on the phone for several hours.
Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Chief Scott Goldstein said they were disoriented by the complexity of the circumstances, “so as all of our call takers do, you work on reassuring them, providing them with frequent updates, and establishing a dialogue with them so you’re exchanging information.”
Goldstein stated that they started asking questions about their medical conditions, doing everything they would do face-to-face with a patient but over the phone. First responders were concerned about the pilot and passenger developing hypothermia.
The aircraft took off from White Plains, New York’s Westchester County Airport, and was due to touch down at the Montgomery County Airpark around 5:40 p.m.
According to archived recordings, air traffic controllers attempted to alert the plane that it was flying at a low altitude prior to the crash.
Air traffic controllers were also concerned earlier in the flight that the pilot would obstruct the flight paths of commercial flights departing from Washington Dulles Airport.
Nearby witnesses to the crash were shocked by what they saw. Some remembered that although it was too dark to see clearly, it seemed as though the plane was suspended in midair.
One hundred twenty thousand homes experienced power outages, forcing some nearby schools to close for the day.
According to the outlet, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is looking into the pilot, the aircraft, and the surrounding area, which anticipates having a preliminary report in two to three weeks and a final report in 12 to 24 months.