A small plane — a Piper four-seater — crashed Monday in a farm field on Airport Road North in Bennington. The pilot suffered a non-life-threatening injury but a significant head laceration, said Bennington Police Chief Paul Doucette at the scene.

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BENNINGTON — The pilot who crash-landed Monday evening in a field near the Bennington airport has been identified as Anthony J. LaFranco, 40, of Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Members of the Bennington Police Department, Bennington Rural Fire Department and Bennington Rescue Squad responded to the William H. Morse State Airport around 5:30 p.m. Monday for a report of an aircraft crash off of the runway. Upon arrival, responders found that LaFranco had climbed out of the plane and was bleeding profusely from a significant head injury. The aircraft was in a horse paddock just north of the airport runway, Bennington Police said in a statement Tuesday.

Officers at the scene briefly spoke with LaFranco about the crash. LaFranco reported the aircraft experienced engine failure near the airport, and said he attempted to land the aircraft on the runway. LaFranco said he was unable to maintain a proper landing speed and fell below stall speed, causing the aircraft to hit the perimeter fence.

Laura Gillis, owner of the farm where the plane crash-landed, told the Banner on Monday that she heard a bang, and came out of the house and saw the aircraft down.

“I walked out here just to see. I obviously saw it,” Gillis said of the plane. She said the pilot “started coming out. He was pulling himself out, and I could tell he was bloody. I said, ‘Is anybody else in there?’ He said, ‘No, it’s just me.’”

A LifeNet helicopter responded to the scene and transported LaFranco to Albany (N.Y.) Medical Center.

Local officials contacted the National Transportation Safety Board, and after reviewing information from officers and reviewing digital images of the crash, the NTSB authorized removal of the aircraft, to return it to the airport. Bennington Police worked with airport staff late into the evening to remove it.

The crash remains under investigation. Anyone who might have witnessed the incident is asked to contact the Bennington Police Department at 802-442-1030 or visit


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