The Biddeford man who was flying the plane that crashed in the woods near a New Hampshire airport on Sunday was listed in fair condition Monday at a Portsmouth hospital.

Ronald Gagnon was at the controls of a Piper Cherokee at 9:19 a.m. Sunday when the small plane crashed about 2,000 feet from where it took off from Hampton Airfield in North Hampton, New Hampshire, after touching down briefly.

Both Gagnon and his passenger, whom police have not identified, were able to get out of the plane’s cockpit. The passenger suffered burns over 10 percent of his upper body, according to fire officials, and after being taken to Portsmouth Regional Hospital, he was flown by medical helicopter to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. The passenger’s condition isn’t known.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash to determine whether it was the result of a mechanical malfunction or human error. However, the agency did not send an investigator to the scene and is relying on the Federal Aviation Administration to gather information about the crash, said NTSB spokesman Terry Williams.

Gagnon and his wife, Doris Gagnon, who is listed as a co-owner of the plane, declined interviews Monday, according to Portsmouth Regional Hospital spokeswoman Nancy Notis, but the couple thanked well-wishers for their support.

According to his Facebook page, Gagnon is director of supply chain purchasing and material planning at High Liner Foods Inc. in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He flies out of the Biddeford Municipal Airport and is a member of Friends of Biddeford Airport, according to members of the organization.

The plane crashed about 150 yards from a house in the woods off Cedar Road. It took the first fire crews about six minutes to get there after the initial report came in.

“I was anticipating both would be trapped,” North Hampton Fire Department Lt. Jason Lajoie said during a news conference Sunday. “I was very surprised they were able to exit the aircraft on their own, and that saved on the number of injuries they had.”

Lajoie added that although the plane crashed, it appears the trees slowed its descent, softening its impact on the ground. One of the plane’s wings was still suspended in the trees Sunday afternoon, he said.

The cockpit remained largely intact with the only damage being to its nose, he said. The plane was on fire when firefighters arrived, but Lajoie described it as a small fire that crews were able to put out quickly.

Gagnon and his passenger were about 30 feet away from the wreckage when firefighters arrived, Lajoie said. Gagnon was able to walk away but his passenger had to be carried to a waiting ambulance.

The plane had arrived at the airfield from elsewhere, touched down at the airfield and taxied, but did not stop, and quickly took off again, officials said. The plane crashed shortly thereafter, about 2,000 feet from the end of the runway.

David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

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