AMITY TWP., Pa. - A pilot is in serious condition after his plane crashed Wednesday afternoon in Amity Township, officials said.
John Bertagna was flying a small Just Hylander aircraft with passenger Steven Bosshard, of Manasquan, New Jersey, when the crash happened just after 3:30 p.m. on Bertagna's private grass airstrip off of Amity Park Road, officials said.
"It was a huge ball of flames and an enormous plume of black smoke," said Karen LeBlanc, president of the Amity Township Athletic Club, which directly neighbors the airstrip.
Emergency responders rushed to the scene, controlling the fire and transporting Bertagna and Bosshard to Reading Hospital.
Police said Bertagna had "visible injuries" while Bosshard suffered "unknown injuries."
The two were both conscious when emergency personnel arrived on scene, witnesses said.
On Thursday, Bosshard was listed in good condition. LeBlanc said she had watched the plane flying overhead earlier that day.
She and neighbors described Bertagna as a skilled pilot who flew planes while in the Marines and for commercial airlines.
"He's always flown... they've always flown on that airstrip," said LeBlanc, noting that the property has been in Bertagna's family for generations.
Neighbors said the crashed plane was only about a month old. Records indicate that the plane was a 2014 model.
On Thursday morning, officials with the Federal Aviation Administration were called to investigate.
An FAA spokesman told 69 News that the case was being turned over to the National Transportation Safety Board.
An NTSB representative told 69 News that it could take from six months to one year to determine what caused the crash.
Meanwhile, neighbors are concerned for Bertagna. "He is a real good guy," said John Fry. "We're very concerned for his well-being," said LeBlanc.
Allentown, PA 18102