A small plane crashed into a Lindenwold backyard Wednesday, just missing a basketball hoop, a child's playhouse, and nearby houses, and leaving those on the ground marveling at their good luck.
The pilot and passenger were trapped upside down in the cockpit, and the plane's tail had separated.
It took rescue crews more than 30 minutes to reach the pilot, 66, and passenger, 72, whom authorities did not identify. They were semiconscious but not talking before they were taken to Cooper University Hospital, where they were expected to recover.
Authorities said it was fortunate the plane missed the two-story houses on the 500 block of Linden Avenue, where emergency crews responded just before 1 p.m. Wednesday.
"Very lucky," Lindenwold Fire Chief Mike Nolan said. "If you look at the area, there are homes everywhere."
The Federal Aviation Administration and local police were investigating the cause of the crash. The plane was an Ercoupe 415-C that had taken off from the Flying W Airport in Medford.
Fire crews said that the plane was leaking fuel after the crash and that they sprayed foam to neutralize the leak.
Some residents heard the boom but assumed it was a car accident or noise from a nearby firehouse.
Cydnei Childers, 21, who lives next to where the plane ended up, said she thought little of the sound and did not look outside until emergency responders flooded the area.
To her surprise, the plane had avoided her house and those of her neighbors.
"Somehow it managed to miss everything," Childers said.
Peter Pullella, who operates Pullella's Pizza Parlor nearby, also said it was not the crash but the sounds of the emergency vehicles that drew his attention.
The plane model was first manufactured before World War II by the Engineering & Research Corp., and then into the 1960s by a variety of companies, according to the website of the Museum of Flight in Seattle.
The plane "was designed to be an easy-to-fly, affordable, and safe light aircraft," the website states.
Some news reports identified the plane's owner as Daniel L. McCaffery of Chesapeake City, Md. He has several small planes registered in his name and is a certified instructor, according to FAA records.
Lindenwold Police Chief Thomas Brennan said the pilot had rented the plane in Maryland, but he would not say who was on board. The identities of the two men will likely be released Thursday, he said.