Byline: Linda Bock
SPENCER - A well-known local man was killed yesterday morning when the plane he was piloting crashed at Spencer Airport, also known as Andrews Field. The plane went down in trees near the runway shortly before 9 a.m.
Airport owner Gregg Andrews was identified by authorities as the crash victim. Mr. Andrews, 50, ran Andrews Aviation and his family owns land near the airport.
The plane's registered owner is Howard A. Eddy, who has a post office box in West Brookfield, according to federal Aviation Administration spokesman James Peters. The plane is a Piper PA-28, Mr. Peters said.
Mr. Peters said Mr. Andrews was flying under visual flight rules, and was not required to file a flight plan. According to the Worcester district attorney's office, Mr. Andrews had just taken off and was headed to Fitchburg Municipal Airport to perform service on another plane.
Federal aviation authorities are investigating the cause of the crash. The small plane sheared the tops of trees not far from the airfield's gravel landing strip, sandwiched between the Laureldale Woods development and houses on the other side of the airport.
"Why this happened, nobody knows," said 77-year-old David Stark, a lifelong friend of the Andrews family. He said Gregg Andrews grew up in the house next to his on Sugden Reservoir. "I've known him since he was born. Gregg lived right next door to the airport."
Mr. Stark said he learned about the crash while watching the news yesterday morning, and he drove over with two friends. Mr. Stark said he and the entire community were devastated to learn that the victim was Mr. Andrews.
"Gregg died doing what he liked the best," Mr. Stark said. He said Mr. Andrews was an excellent and experienced pilot who also taught others to fly, and was also a plane mechanic. "We'll miss him. He was a great person, and well-liked by everyone ... It's a real sad day."
Andrews Field, on Paxton Road in the northeast section of town, has been in the Andrews family since about 1946. Mr. Andrews' grandfather, Carl Andrews, built it. Gregg Andrews grew up at the airport. As a youngster, he spent many years working on planes. He went to East Coast Aerotech aircraft mechanic's school and graduated in 1981, according to an Evening Gazette story in 1987.
"If you met Gregg ... he had a great sense of humor; he will be missed," Mr. Stark said.
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