- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 7, 2002

An off-duty United Airlines pilot was killed yesterday after the private plane he was flying with his son crashed in the driveway of a Leesburg home after experiencing engine trouble, police and aviation officials said.
James Scambos, 44, of Ashburn tried to make an emergency landing at Ida Lee Park because the single-engine plane was unable to return to the Leesburg Executive Airport, said Virginia State Police 1st Sgt. Richard Keevill. Mr. Scambos' son, Paul, was home from the U.S. Air Force to celebrate his 22nd birthday later this month.
"It was a miraculous landing," said Doug McNeeley, director of the Leesburg Executive Airport. "It's hard to believe the plane landed where it did. There was no damage, the mailbox was standing, there was no fire, there was no injury to anyone on the ground."
The pilot died of injuries suffered during impact with the ground, Sgt. Keevill said. The son suffered a possible broken ankle and scrapes and bruises.
Mr. Scambos and his son took off about 9:30 a.m. yesterday from Leesburg Executive Airport in a Diamond DA 20-C1, a two-seater single-engine plane they were renting, Mr. McNeeley said.
Less than 40 minutes later the plane developed engine trouble and Mr. Scambos decided to return to the airport, Sgt. Keevill said. But problems with the plane's engine escalated and he realized he would be unable to reach the airport.
"Unfortunately, he was not able to make it back," Mr. McNeeley said, noting that Mr. Scambos purposely avoided the populated residential section of Leesburg and aimed for the open area of Ida Lee Park.
The plane crashed at 10:26 a.m. about 100 yards short of the park, Sgt. Keevill said. It crashed in the driveway at 415 Tudor Court in the Exeter subdivision.
"He did an exceptional job getting that plane down without hitting homes, property or people," Sgt. Keevill said. "And that's tribute to the father's flying ability. It was less than one-and-a-half miles from the airport."
The plane ended up less than 2 inches from a pickup truck parked in the driveway, Mr. McNeeley said.
The plane, a 2000 model manufactured in Canada, primarily is used for training, Mr. McNeeley said. It was rented from the Av-Ed flight school, one of two at the airport.
"Father and son were up for a recreational flight," Mr. McNeeley said.


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