- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 24, 2003

FOREST HILL, Md. — A private military-training jet crashed in a yard between two houses yesterday and killed the pilot, officials said.

The two-seater Czechoslovakian-made L-39 jet departed from Martin State Airport and crashed about five miles north in Forest Hill, a Baltimore suburb, said Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Eastern region spokesman Jim Peters.

The jet crashed about 11:15 a.m. on Rock Spring Road, clipping one of the homes, said Rich Gardiner, a spokesman with the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Department.

“I’m very amazed that the plane was able to go between the two residences and only did damage to one,” Mr. Gardiner said.

Mr. Peters said there were no reports of injuries on the ground nor in the house. He said police officials would establish the pilot’s identity and notify the next of kin before releasing the name.

Peter Fellman, 58, and his wife, Louanne, 65, rent the home that was hit by the jet. Relatives and friends helped the couple pack some belongings yesterday afternoon. The couple were away at the time of the crash and learned of it from a neighbor, Mr. Fellman said.

“We came right home, not knowing if it was our home,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it.”

Mr. Fellman said the couple couldn’t get into a room where they kept Hershey Foods collectibles and other antiques because of damage from the crash. Part of the home’s roof and a wall had collapsed.

Morris Carlson, 63, who lives with his wife, Sandra, and son, Christopher, next to the Fellmans, said the jet missed their home by about 30 feet but demolished a large dog pen and a small motor boat. It also damaged two sheds in their back yard, he said.

“It’s a beautiful day to work in the yard, unless it’s our yard,” Mrs. Carlson said, adding that she is relieved her family was not home when the jet crashed.

Mr. Gardiner said the debris covered a patch about 50 feet by 25 feet wide, and that the crash started a fire. Witnesses told Harford County spokeswoman Merrie Street that the jet exploded after crashing, releasing a massive plume of black smoke.

The jet was registered to Bond Jet LLC in Wilmington, Del., and had a registration number of N298RD, Mr. Peters said.

He also said it was too early to tell what happened, and that the crash will be investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board. Mr. Peters also said the pilot did not file a flight plan with the FAA, so his intended destination was not known.

He said the aircraft is a favorite of North American jet enthusiasts, many of whom travel to Eastern Europe and fly the jets back.

He said pilots have to be trained and rated in the jets before they can fly them, and that the weapons system has to be removed.

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