Authorities say a strong gust of wind caused a small fire-spotting airplane to flip onto its roof Thursday afternoon at Plymouth Municipal Airport.

Firefighters arrived on scene at approximately 3:30 p.m. and found a Plymouth County Fire Patrol Cessna light aircraft that was overturned, Chief G. Edward Bradley reported.

The airplane was returning from routine air patrol when it encountered a large gust of wind upon landing, and the pilot was unable to prevent the plane from overturning, a preliminary investigation revealed.

The plane is used by fire departments in Plymouth County during extreme drought conditions to monitor the area for signs of fire. The crew includes a pilot and an observer who searches the area for smoke. The pilot and observer are hired through the Plymouth County Fire Chiefs’ Association.

The pilot and observer on board the plane Thursday were able to safely exit on their own, and were in the process of securing the plane when crews arrived. No injuries were reported, but both occupants were transported to the hospital for evaluation as a precaution.

The plane sustained severe damage. It will remain on scene until crews from the Federal Aviation Administration respond to assist.

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