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A 79-year-old Erie County man suffered multiple injuries when the single-engine plane he was piloting crashed during takeoff at around 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Royalton Airport on Mackey Road in Gasport.

The man, who initially was trapped in the wreckage, was airlifted to Erie County Medical Center by Mercy Flight to be treated for multiple injuries, including facial injuries. His name was not immediately released.

The light-sport plane came down in a heavily wooded area to the right of the runway, the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office reported.

While the trees cushioned the plane’s descent and likely saved the pilot’s life, they presented some difficulties for emergency responders, officials said.

Emergency personnel arrived within 15 minutes of the crash, but it took an hour to rescue the pilot. A backhoe was used to clear a path about 150 yards into the woods so he could be carried out on a stretcher.

Officials said they believed the man, who remained conscious after the crash, could have walked out on his own but was carried out as a precaution.

No one else was on board the plane.

The plane appeared to be a total loss, sheriff’s officials said.

Personnel from the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will arrive Monday to determine the cause of the crash.

Until that time, Niagara County sheriff’s deputies will be keeping the public away from the scene.

Officials said the wings were broken off the plane and there is concern that if it is disturbed, a parachute could deploy, further damaging the plane and making an analysis of the crash difficult.

The Gasport and Middleport fire companies responded to the scene along with Rural/Metro Medical Services and Tri-Town Ambulance.

email: citydesk@buffnews.com