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Plane crash on Shaw

This private plane went down among the trees, just short of the Shaw Island air strip. - Al Wilding   Contributed photo
This private plane went down among the trees, just short of the Shaw Island air strip.
— image credit: Al Wilding Contributed photo

A Northwest Marine Technology plane crashed while coming in for a landing at the Shaw Island airstrip last Thursday. The pilot survived with bruises; the passenger was not hurt.

The airplane was completely demolished, leaving little for salvage except perhaps some instruments and landing gear.

The pilot, Guy Thornburgh, 53, and passenger David Knutzen, 35, were flown to Anacortes to be checked by a doctor; they were later released. Thornburgh is from Anacortes, while Knutzen lives in Olympia.

Both are Northwest Marine Technology employees. The company manufactures identification tags that are placed on fish.

Thornburgh and Knutzen were preparing to land at the Shaw Island airstrip Thursday around 1:30 p.m. They were about 20 to 30 feet above the ground when a sudden gust of wind caught the left wing, carrying the plane into trees adjacent to the airstrip.

The right wing struck a tree and spun the airplane around and into the ground, demolishing it in the process. The impact separated the engine and control panel from the wings and fuselage.

Thornburgh and Knutzen were found standing in the runway by Shaw Islander Wayne Fowler, who responded after hearing the crunching of metal and an engine racing. He called for fire and medical assistance.

Thornburgh is an experienced pilot who has landed at the Shaw Island airstrip numerous times, so he is familiar with the strip.

The incident is being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.

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