By Bianca Buono


A pilot is dead after crashing his plane into an apartment building in Methuen.

The crash happened at 1:25 p.m. Tuesday at Prides Crossing Condominiums on Riverview Blvd. The pilot has been identified as Alan Lavender.

Methuen police described the plane he was flying as “a single engine, propeller-driven airplane.”

Lavender was the former mayor of Newburyport. He became a certified sport pilot in 2014 and according to Sonex’s website, the small plane he was flying was flown for the first time in May of last year.

According to radio traffic between the plane and the tower, Lavender took off from Lawrence Municipal Airport around 1 p.m. to practice takeoffs and landings. The FAA says it was during his final approach when he crashed.

"He was on the side, he wasn't straight down. He was trying to get to the pond ... you could see it," a witness said, adding the engine was making a "sputtering sound." 

"We were watching TV and the whole place shook," one resident said, standing with her husband outside the complex. "He went outside and the plane was on top of the roof. We couldn't believe it."

Surprisingly, this isn’t the first time a plan has crashed into that apartment complex in Methuen. In 1999, three adults and a child were all seriously injured after a similar crash.

“I’m a lucky person in the fact that I wasn’t there,” Mike Paglieroni, the owner of damaged condo said. “I know I usually work during those hours, but it could’ve been any time of the day. I could’ve been home. It could’ve been later at night.”

"We're going to look at the integrity of the area, number one in terms of what we have here... and we're going to check with the airport because there are conditions there we want to look at as well in terms of taking off and landing,” said Methuen Mayor Stephen Zanni.

The FAA is investigating what went wrong in the crash. For the time being, that apartment building is uninhabitable.

Nobody inside the building or on the ground was injured in the crash.

© WLNE-TV 2017