TMB Avenger Lands On Fire At Millville, N.J.
Terry Rush, 63, was departing Runway 28 at Millville Airport in New Jersey, Saturday at roughly 5 p.m. in a Grumman TBM Avenger, when he noticed his left wing was on fire, according to early reports. The pilot flew the aircraft, on fire, back to a landing at the airport, but not before the fire had spread. Rush, who was himself beginning to burn, successfully landed the burning aircraft, jumped onto the wing, then to the ground as the aircraft rolled out and became engulfed in flames. Local fire companies arrived on the scene and extinguished the fire within about ten minutes. But by then, the historic restored aircraft had been transformed into a hardly recognizable wreck sitting some 400 feet from where its pilot had evacuated it. Rush was flown by medevac helicopter to a local hospital where he was listed in critical but stable condition, having suffered second and third degree burns to his left side and both hands.
The Avenger torpedo bomber was one of the largest single-engine aircraft of its era and the accident aircraft was similar to the one flown by former President George H.W. Bush during World War II. The Avenger flown by Rush was owned by Thomas Duffy, who keeps several warbirds on the field. Both the NTSB and Environmental Protection Agency were notified of the incident and the cause of the fire is under investigation.