Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze & Observer 11-21-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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18 SCITUATE / SMITHFIELD NOVEMBER 21-27, 2019 | VALLEY BREEZE & OBSERVER in New York to Boston carrying 10 passengers. "It was a typical February day in New England, breezy, icy, with overcast skies," Hogg said. Midway, disaster struck, and the cabin began to fill with smoke. "We knew something was wrong when we could smell smoke," Hogg said. He said the commuter plane was flying at altitude, and the crew decid- ed to check the windshield de-icer to see if it worked. A malfunction in the de-icer caused pumping of isopropyl alcohol on the two pilots, and flames quickly engulfed the cockpit. According to Hogg, the smoke was so dense and dark that he could not see or speak with Prinster, who was feet away from him in the cockpit. "There was no discussion. The cockpit was so filled with smoke. We couldn't see each other to talk to each other," Hogg said. The pilots stretched their heads out of the side cockpit windows to breathe and catch a glimpse of their surroundings. There was no way the plane would make it to the Westerly State Airport, Hogg said. The situa- tion had simply gotten too bad too quickly, he said. "Anytime there is fire on an air- plane, you've got to get it on the ground as soon as possible," he said. The cockpit was not sectioned off, and the plane's cabin quickly began to fill with smoke. He said it was no secret that this was a dire situation. Despite their pants burning off their legs, Hogg said he kept his hands on the yoke and followed Prinster's lead. He said he felt move- ment in the controls and looked to the ground below. "I saw trees, and then I saw the res- ervoir," Hogg said. He said he knew what Prinster was thinking and prepared to land. "We put it down, and we came in hard, but all but one survived," Hogg said. One passenger, Loretta Stanczak, died of asphyxiation. Prinster and Hogg escorted the remaining nine passengers off the plane and the reservoir. Hogg said the ice cracked where the plane landed but sup- ported the craft's weight where it stopped. Rescue crews waited at the shore- line to begin treating the survivors. Hogg said inflammation from the burns caused his eyes to swell shut, and he was led off the ice by a pas- senger. At that point, he had burns over 25 percent of his body. Prinster's body was 75 percent covered in burns. A long road to recovery lay ahead requiring numerous surgeries and skin grafts lasting more than a year. Once he recovered, Hogg returned to flying commercial planes. Now at age 65, the Maryland resident said he can no longer fly commercial. After flying for US Airways for 35 years, he is the president of Piedmont Airlines. While recovering from his various surgeries, Hogg said he often thought about flying and dreamed of doing it again. "I loved it so much. I was really just getting started at that point," he said. A few good things came from the forced landing that day, Hogg said. He and Prinster continued to fly and were labeled heroes locally and nationally. The pair met former President Ronald Reagan and shared their story with various media outlets. Scituate erected a stone monument at the intersection of Routes 4 and 102, describing the miraculous land- ing that occurred that day and thank- ing the pilots and rescue crews. Hogg said he, his wife Gretchen and their children visited the monu- ment a few years back, but have not returned since. The forced landing was investi- gated and found the de-icing system to be faulty. The investigation led to a change in design to an electric heating element to defrost the wind- shield. Hogg said in his almost 40 years of flying, he never experienced any- thing similar to what happened that day in February. A few years from retirement, Hogg said he misses the beauty of flying planes. "I miss the challenge of flying in poor weather and I miss the beauty of flying on a good weather day," he said. Once he retires, Hogg said he plans on staying in one place since he's already traveled so much. When people call him a hero, Hogg dis- agrees. He said he was just doing his job. "I don't think about it that way. I think about it as doing the job I was trained to do," he said. The 17th annual Rhode Island Aviation Hall of Fame dinner will be held this Saturday, Nov. 23, at the Scottish Rite Masonic Center of Cranston. Tickets are $60 and are available at www.riahof.org or by calling 401-398-1000. PILOTS From Page One PBS 'Our Town' interviews at North Scituate Library SCITUATE – PBS will be con- ducting interviews for its upcoming special, "Our Town Scituate," at the North Scituate Public Library, 606 West Greenville Road, on Saturday, Nov. 23, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Contact Jodi Mesolella at jodim@ ripbs.org for more information. Graphic Novel Book Group meets Wednesday SMITHFIELD – Greenville Public Library, 573 Putnam Pike, will host its Share a Graphic Novel Book Group on Wednesday, Nov. 27, at 3:30 p.m. The group is for grades 3-5 and will meet each month to discuss a graphic novel chosen by the children's librarian. Call the library at 401-949-3630 to register or visit the children's room desk. IN BRIEF Library offers Bloxels video game building program SMITHFIELD – East Smithfield Public Library, 50 Esmond St., will host Bloxels: Build Your Own Video Games on Tuesday, Nov. 26, at 6:30 p.m. Use a Bloxels gameboard, some blocks, a mobile device and your imagination to create a video game. This program is for ages 8 and older. To register or for more information, call the library at 401-231-5150. 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