FAIRFIELD — No one was injured when a small jet went off a runway at Essex County Airport Sunday afternoon.

As the Citation CJ3 jet was descending onto runway 22 around 2:40 p.m. it was not able to touch down at the correct moment due to strong crosswinds, according to a preliminary investigation by Fairfield police.

When the plane did land on the runway it went off the pavement into a drainage brook.

Runway 22 runs north to south at the county-owned field also known as Caldwell Airport.

As police were arriving the three men on board the plane's owner, Edward P. Gregory, 66, of Bernardsville; Corie Dave Bennett, 45, of Danbury, Connecticut; and Carlos Rodriguez, 57 of Poughkeepsie, New York, were attempting to get out of the plane.

“We are very relieved that no one was injured as a result of this incident,” Fairfield police chief Anthony G. Manna said in a statement.

Plane after sliding off a runway at Essex County Airport 4/17/22
Plane after sliding off a runway at Essex County Airport 4/17/22 (Fairfield Police)
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Strong winds

The Nutley Fire Department’s Hazardous Materials Unit helped clean up fuel that leaked into the brook after landing.

New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow said the winds blowing at the time of the crash could have been enough to cause a control issue for the pilot.

"At the time of the incident, surface winds were blowing out of the northwest at the airport. Sustained at 14 mph. Regular gusts to 24 mph. Top gust to 34 mph. Those winds would potentially be even higher just above the surface," Zarrow said. "Such a northwesterly cross-wind would hit the back-right of the aircraft, and could be enough to cause control problems."

Spokesman Rick Breitenfeldt said the FAA is investigating the cause of the crash.

Map shows direction of small jet landing 4/17/22
Map shows direction of small jet landing 4/17/22 (Google Street View)
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Third NJ small plane crash in a month

Two other small planes have crashed at New Jersey airports since the end of March.

A single-engine M20M crashed on the front lawn of a house on South Main Street in Manville while trying to land at Central Jersey Airport. The pilot got himself out of the plane and was hospitalized for treatment of a facial injury.

A plane rolled off the runway at Morristown Airpot in Hanover on Saturday morning with four people on board. It came to a stop in the grass with significant damage. Both wings had separated from the small plane, according to Morristown Green.

Plane after crashing into a yard on South Main Street in Manville
Plane after crashing into a yard on South Main Street in Manville (Kathy Poch)
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Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dan.alexander@townsquaremedia.com

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NJ beach tags guide for summer 2022

We're coming up on another summer at the Jersey Shore! Before you get lost in the excitement of sunny days on the sand, we're running down how much seasonal/weekly/daily beach tags will cost you, and the pre-season deals you can still take advantage of!

These are the best hiking spots in New Jersey

A trip to New Jersey doesn't have to be all about the beach. Our state has some incredible trails, waterfalls, and lakes to enjoy.

From the Pine Barrens to the Appalachian Trail to the hidden gems of New Jersey, you have plenty of options for a great hike. Hiking is such a great way to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature, plus it's a great workout.

Before you go out on the trails and explore some of our listeners' suggestions, I have some tips on hiking etiquette from the American Hiking Society.

If you are going downhill and run into an uphill hiker, step to the side and give the uphill hiker space. A hiker going uphill has the right of way unless they stop to catch their breath.

Always stay on the trail, you may see side paths, unless they are marked as an official trail, steer clear of them. By going off-trail you may cause damage to the ecosystems around the trail, the plants, and wildlife that live there.

You also do not want to disturb the wildlife you encounter, just keep your distance from the wildlife and continue hiking.

Bicyclists should yield to hikers and horses. Hikers should also yield to horses, but I’m not sure how many horses you will encounter on the trails in New Jersey.
If you are thinking of bringing your dog on your hike, they should be leashed, and make sure to clean up all pet waste.

Lastly, be mindful of the weather, if the trail is too muddy, it's probably best to save your hike for another day.

I asked our listeners for their suggestions of the best hiking spots in New Jersey, check out their suggestions:

School aid for all New Jersey districts for 2022-23

The state Department of Education announced district-level school aid figures for the 2022-23 school year on Thursday, March 10, 2022. They're listed below, alphabetically by county. For additional details from the NJDOE, including specific categories of aid, click here.