Trees Cited In Fatal Crash

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The Westerly (R.I.) State Airport recently got a federal grant that will rebuild a runway and remove trees that obscure pilots' visibility -- but it's too late for two pilots who died in a midair on that runway in November 2003. The NTSB last week released its final report on that crash, in which a Piper Archer landed on the runway as a Cessna 180 was taking off. Both pilots in the Cessna died, but the pilot of the Piper and his two passengers were OK. The safety board found that the probable cause for the crash was the Piper pilot's decision to land even though he saw the Cessna on the runway. Other factors were the departing Cessna pilot's inattentive radio communications, and the obscured visibility of the traffic pattern from the air and ground by trees located at the departure end of the runway.