Glider pilot found dead in wreckage near Alexandria

A West Chester man who was participating in a national glider competition was found dead in the wreckage of his aircraft Sunday afternoon in a densely wooded and steep area of Porter Township near Alexandria.
According to Adam Miller, Huntingdon County Emergency Management director, the glider pilot was identified as Peter Masak, 46. An autopsy will be performed today to determine if something other than the crash, such as sudden health complications, may have attributed to his death. Mr. Masak and his glider were located about 12:20 p.m. Sunday after a search which began about 9 p.m. Saturday.
Volunteers from the Alexandria, Petersburg, McConnellstown, Shavers Creek and Huntingdon fire companies, the Somerset County Civil Air Patrol, Huntingdon County Sheriff’s Posse and Sheriff’s Department deputies spent time on the mountainous terrain near the Huntingdon and Blair counties’ line. The glider was found on property owned by the Alexandria Water Authority as part of its watershed. Miller said the front of the fiberglass-body glider was upright and disconnected from the wing base and suspended from the trees.
Gliders have no engines and are sent airborne by a motorized aircraft. Pilots use controls to steer and glide the craft, using wind currents and downdrafts. Mr. Masak had taken off from a Mifflin County airfield.
Miller said the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency notified Huntingdon County 911 about 8:40 p.m. that a glider had gone down somewhere off the Williamsburg Mountain Road. The transmitter on the craft was sending a beacon which eventually helped pinpoint the area. Miller said he began mobilizing volunteers about 9 p.m. and Alexandria Fire Co. was used as the search headquarters. Red Cross volunteers and staff were also posted near the site.
Helicopters from the Pennsylvania State Police and a nearby trauma center and Civil Air Patrol aircraft searched the mountain in the darkness and the wreckage was spotted close to 6 a.m. After the location was fine tuned, ground searchers went in after daylight.
Huntingdon County deputy coroner Dave Garvey of Orbisonia told Miller it is more than likely the crash injuries caused the man’s death.
Weary volunteers from the Alexandria Fire Co. gathered at the fire hall Sunday afternoon after the search was completed. They also fought a mobile home fire early Sunday morning in Porter Township.