A routine training flight ended abruptly—and luckily with no injuries—for a club plane practicing at Gardner Municipal Airport in Massachusetts on Monday. The Cessna 172 was approaching to land when the pilots heard a “pop” and smelled fuel. “Once we started to smell fuel, we knew something was going on,” student pilot Dan Black told Boston 25 News.
“We didn’t think it was a bullet,” Black continued, “We saw that fuel was coming out of our wing, so we knew we had an issue with the left tank. We parked the plane and dumped all the fuel out into buckets. And during that process, we noticed a hole in the wing,” Black told the local news station. He estimates he was two minutes from landing and about 700 feet AGL when the tank was punctured by the bullet. “I don’t know who would want to shoot an airplane, so I would like to hope it was unintentional and just an accident, but I have no idea,” Black told reporters.
Other aviators will be happy to know law enforcement has certainly taken notice of the incident, with local police, the Worcester DA and the FAA investigating. A quick look at maps around the airport, located just south of Gardner, reveals a considerably rural area. Online tracking data shows the 172 was making left closed traffic for runway 36 at Gardner Muni when the incident occurred.
Massachusetts plane landing at airport struck by bullet, pilot says https://t.co/HTdtF56FU3
— Ellen Kagan (@kagan_ellen) April 26, 2022