Update, 6:55 p.m.: Winchester Fire Chief Barry Kellom has confirmed that one person is dead after a plane crashed in a heavily wooded area of town today. The plane was found in the general vicinity of Route 78 at approximately 5 p.m. in a search that included multiple agencies and spanned several hours. No information has been released on the person's identity, including gender or approximate age. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will take over the scene.


WINCHESTER — Authorities are searching off Scotland Road in Winchester today after a report that a plane crashed in the area. 

Winchester Fire Chief Barry Kellom said in an interview at the fire station this afternoon that search aircraft were grounded because of the weather and they expect another storm this evening, but this won’t halt the ground search. “Right now we’re taking this as a rescue operation, so time is of the essence.”

Kellom said the search is a joint operation of N.H. Fish and Game and Winchester Fire. Fish and Game is now searching on ATVs on Manning Hill Road, Kellom said.

Witness Kumaran Spaulding says he saw a plane that looked like it could have been a one or two-seat stunt plane approximately 400 feet up that was going straight down. "The plane came down very fast and we heard a crash," Spaulding said.

Patrick McLoud, who lives on Scotland Road, said that at around 11 a.m., he saw a single-engine plane circling in the area, then headed north. At that point, McLoud said, he didn’t perceive trouble. Then, maybe 10 to 15 minutes later, he heard what he thought was the same engine but this time it was “roaring” and then came to a sudden stop. “The engine sounded way too loud. There was roaring, and it cut off abruptly.”

Keene Fire Lt. Aaron Cooper said officials have gotten at least a half dozen calls from people reporting hearing or seeing a plane, or both — “enough that it’s pretty credible.”

N.H. Homeland Security and Emergency Management tweeted that it has activated the state Emergency Operations Center to coordinate and assist with any search and rescue operations.

Winchester Police Chief Gary Phillips said emergency personnel are searching in the area between Scotland Road and Route 78.

Southwestern N.H. District Fire Mutual Aid said a State Police helicopter had to turn around due to weather but drones have been sent up to search.

If a plane did crash, it's unclear where it may have taken off from. Representatives of several local airports, including Dillant-Hopkins in Keene, Orange (Mass.) Municipal, Northampton (Mass.) Airport and Silver Ranch in Jaffrey said the plane had not launched from their runways.

Representatives for the Turners Falls airport in Montague, Mass., did not immediately respond to queries.

A dispatcher with Southwestern N.H. District Fire Mutual Aid was heard saying they received two reports of a loud noise that sounded like a plane crash.  

Xander Landen can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1420 or at xlanden@keenesentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @XLandenKS. Paul Cuno-Booth can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1409 or at pbooth@keenesentinel.com