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Smoky plane makes emergency landing at Lake Clear airport

Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department members respond to an emergency landing call at the Adirondack Regional Airport Wednesday morning. The Cape Air flight to Boston turned around after 10 minutes due to smoke in the cockpit. There were no injuries, and the plane landed safely. (Provided photo — Greg Borzilleri)

SARANAC LAKE — As smoke seeped into the cockpit, an early morning Cape Air flight to Boston Wednesday turned around after 10 minutes and made a safe emergency landing back at the Adirondack Regional Airport in Lake Clear.

No one was injured. A heater malfunction caused the smoke in the cockpit, which led to the change of flight plans, according to officials at the Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department. Firefighters responded with 14 members and three trucks at 7:40 a.m. and were back at the station by 9 a.m. No action was necessary.

“It’s not as exciting as it sounds,” said Airport Manager Corey Hurwitch. “Everything went according to plan. The pilot, I guess, smelled some smoke or had some smoke in the cockpit. He notified air traffic control. Air traffic control notified us and the fire departments.”

By the time the plane was on its final approach, firefighters were already at the airport.

“We were already set up and staged,” Hurwitch said. “The plane landed without incident.”

Cape Air Northeast Regional Marketing Director Kelly Collopy said Flight 1026 departed Saranac Lake en route to Boston, and upon climbing to 7,000 feet, the pilot smelled smoke.

“That always initiates sort of this chain of reactions,” Collopy said. “The pilot immediately went through all the emergency protocols, the smoke quickly dissipated. From there, they continued to stay in contact with air traffic control and decided to reroute back to Adirondack Regional Airport.”

Passengers were being re-accommodated, and no additional delays were expected.

Lake Placid’s Greg Borzilleri was one of two passengers on the flight, heading to a vacation in Miami, Florida. His first flight was canceled Tuesday due to high winds, and coupled with the emergency landing on his second try, he plans on staying in the Adirondacks and not heading south for a short break.

“Between yesterday and today, I think somebody’s telling me something,” Borzilleri said Wednesday. “I was just going to go on the beach for a couple of days, but maybe I’ll stick around. We’ll try it again sometime later.”

Borzilleri had high praise for the pilot and said the mood on the plane was calm.

“They go, ‘And don’t be alarmed. There’s going to be a bunch of fire trucks on the runway, but we’re fine.’ They kept saying, ‘We’re not on fire,'” Borzilleri said. “Everybody at Cape Air … the guy at the counter was great, and the pilots were awesome. They were true professionals in every sense of the word.”

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