Man hurt in ultralight accident at Saratoga County Airport

June 5, 2014
Updated 9:28 p.m.
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— A Malta man was taken to Albany Medical Center for treatment after an ultralight airplane he was testing careened out of control into two parked planes inside a hangar at the Saratoga County Airport on Thursday morning.

Kevin D. Purstell, 56, of Lake Ridge Road, was conducting a required Federal Aviation Administration inspection of the ultralight when the accident occurred, the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office said.

Purstell is a mechanic for North American Flight Services, the private company that operates the airport for the county.

The incident occurred at 8:57 a.m. Deputies said Purstell was throttling up the engine as part of testing when he lost control of the plane on the tarmac.

The aircraft traveled from the tarmac into the hangar, where it damaged the wing of a parked Cessna 182 single-engine propeller plane, then struck a single-engine Cessna 337, causing what deputies said was “massive damage.”

Purstell was thrown from the ultralight in the second collision. Deputies said the ultralight never became airborne, and the hangar also sustained minor damage.

Purstell was initially transported to Saratoga Hospital by the Community Emergency Corps and later transferred to Albany Medical Center.

His injuries “are not life-threatening,” said Chief Deputy Richard Castle. “Deputies are down there talking to him.”

Deputies said the FAA will be conducting an investigation of the incident.

The incident comes as public awareness about airport operations has been heightened by a proposal to extend the main runway — a move that would require taking properties in or close to surrounding residential areas.

Castle said the incident had nothing to do with the runway proposal.

The county Board of Supervisors’ Buildings and Grounds Committee will consider the extension plans at a meeting Monday afternoon in Ballston Spa.

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