Gaithersburg, MD Plane Crashes Into House, Dec 2014
On Monday, his voice sounded matter-of-fact as he talked with air traffic controllers - using his call sign, 100 Echo Quebec - while approaching Runway 14.
"Montgomery traffic, 100 Echo Quebec is now 7 miles" from landing.
"Montgomery traffic, 100 Echo Quebec is now 6,000 [feet], straight" toward the runway.
"Montgomery traffic, 100 Echo Quebec is 3 [miles] out, straight in [toward] 1-4."
Then came a call from another pilot who saw what happened.
"We got a Phenom [jet] crash at the end of the runway."
The airport is an uncontrolled runway, which means that, as opposed to larger airports, there is no air traffic control tower directing final approaches. The county-owned airport opened in 1959 to relieve aviation traffic into what is now Reagan National Airport. Since the emergence of Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport and Dulles International Airport, the facility in Gaithersburg has transformed into one used by small planes and business travelers.
The airport has about 100,000 annual departures and arrivals and is the fourth busiest general aviation airport in Maryland.
There have been two accidents at the Gaithersburg airport this year.
On September 13, a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Cessna nosed over after landing. The pilot and two passengers were not injured. Three weeks earlier, the pilot of a Piper plane was seriously injured when he made a forced landing after his engine failed. There have been 12 crashes at the airpark since 1996, none of them fatal.
On Monday morning, Tracy Everett said he was driving his work van when he looked up and saw that the plane was "unsteady" and in trouble. "It was wobbly," he said.
"It was 100 to 200 feet above the trees." He said the plane then did a rolling dive to the left, and then "I saw smoke."
He said he drove to the scene and
"saw and heard a secondary explosion. It was so powerful you could feel it under your feet."
Dianne Gayle, who lives on the street, said she heard a plane overhead as she was working in her living room. That's not unusual, given how close she and her neighbors live to the airport.
Then she heard a boom, and her house seemed to shake. She jumped up, looked out her window and saw a home down the street engulfed in flames. Gayle called 911. "The house is on fire! The house is on fire!" she remembered telling the operator. "A plane crashed into the house! A plane crashed into the house!"
Gayle walked outside. "It was a total inferno," she remembered.
Gayle spotted cars in the driveway of the burning house and desperately hoped no one was home.
"Dear God, don't let them be inside," she said.
In an interview later, Gayle's husband, O'Neil, said he saw the Gemmells out on walks, and saw them doting on their children.
"They are a loving, friendly family," O'Neil Gayle said.