Gettysburg Fire Department was dispatched this afternoon to the Gettysburg Airport on Chambersburg Road for an Airplane down. Firefighters arrived to find an occupied airplane 50 feet in the air wedged in trees. The pilot was uninjured, however confined in the airplane high in the trees. Because of the location, no fire apparatus was able to access the location. Several plans to rescue the pilot were put into place, all of which were extremely time consuming. Firefighters were able to free stand a 35′ ladder (church raise) and secure it mid-air using ropes to assess the stability of the plane. Maryland State Police Trooper 3 was called to assess whether they could drop a rescue basket down from above, however high winds prevented that attempt. Gettysburg Firefighters continued working by clearing access lanes into the wooded area to bring more equipment in. From free standing ladders firefighters began clearing limbs around the plane while additional resources responded. Eventually they were able to secure the plane to the trees with ropes, and used two 45′ ground ladders to secure a rope rescue system in place. Rescuers from the Advanced Tactical Rescue Teams roped a body harness into the cab for the pilot, who was able to place it on himself. Once the harness was verified, the pilot was lowered 50 feet to awaiting EMS, over 3.5 hours after the initial call.
*We witnessed an outstanding team effort from Gettysburg Fire Department, Cumberland Township PD, AREMS as well as the many neighboring agencies that responded. This was a call where you ask yourself, how many tools do you have in your toolbox*