FRANKLIN, Maine – Most of the local rescue workers responding Tuesday night to an emergency call about an ultralight plane crashing into Taunton Bay found it difficult to deal with the death of the pilot.
“Of course it was hard. We all knew Kenney,” Franklin Fire Chief Bob Grindle said Wednesday.
Kenneth Tracy, 52, of Franklin was piloting his two-seater ultralight plane with his 8-year-old daughter, Kenzey, aboard when it crashed into the bay about 200 yards off Dwelley Point just before 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
By the time emergency services arrived, four residents living nearby had taken a boat out to the plane, unstrapped the two victims from their seats and brought them to shore where they began to administer CPR, Grindle said.
Only Kenzey was revived. She was taken by LifeFlight helicopter to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor where she was listed in serious condition Wednesday, according to a hospital spokesperson.
“I used to watch him and his friends play ball in my yard,” said Grindle, who lives across the street from the Tracy family. “I knew him most of his life.”
Tracy, who was born and raised in Franklin, owned and operated Kenneth H. Tracy and Sons contracting out of Franklin with his brother, Richard.Kenneth Tracy had been flying ultralight airplanes for the past 4 or 5 years, according to Grindle.
The plane had taken off from a private airstrip owned by Dean Young on Eastbrook Road in Franklin, the fire chief said. Both Young and Tracy owned ultralight planes and flew them often, he said.
“If there was good weather, [Tracy] was up flying,” said Grindle.
The wreckage was recovered from the water early Wednesday morning by members of the Maine Marine Patrol and taken back to the hangar in Franklin. What’ s left of the ultralight craft will be examined by officials with the National Transportation Safety Board in an effort to determine the cause of the crash.
The investigation is being headed up by the NTSB and the Maine State Police with assistance from the Federal Aviation Administration, according to state police Lt. Christopher Coleman.
“At this point it is a team effort,” said Coleman. “We have several different avenues we are investigating.”
The investigation could take more than six months, he said.
According to Trooper Cliff Peterson, Rick Taylor, who lives on South Bay Road across the bay, witnessed the plane going down and reported the accident at 7:27 p.m. Tuesday.
The trooper said other witnesses also reported the plane appeared to be flying in circles too low to the water when it went down.
Calls to the National Transportation Safety Board were not returned Wednesday.
According to the FAA’ s Web site “ultralight vehicles are not required to meet the airworthiness certification standards specified for aircraft or to have certificates of airworthiness. Operators of ultralight vehicles are not required to meet any aeronautical knowledge, age, or experience requirements to operate those vehicles or to have airman or medical certificates.”
Ultralight aircraft “is a misnomer and are not considered aircraft. The person who was flying it was not a licensed pilot nor was he required to be,” Jim Peters, a spokesman for the FAA’ s New England Region, said Wednesday. Peters said that is why the NTSB is the lead agency investigating the crash and not the FAA.