Mail plane pilot unscathed after crashing on Islesboro

Posted June 15, 2009, at 8:37 p.m.

ISLESBORO, Maine — The pilot of a Penobscot Island Air Service single-engine plane walked away uninjured after the aircraft crashed while taking off Monday from the island airstrip.

Pilot Victor Hall, 56, of Rockland reported the accident on his cell phone at 11:45 a.m., police said. Rockland-based Penobscot Island Air has a contract to deliver the island’s mail, and Hall was taking off in the company Cessna after delivering the mail when he crashed.

Hall told Waldo County Deputy Sheriff Gene Rega that the plane began losing power on takeoff and went down in trees about 800 yards from the end of the airport runway. There was no fire and no fuel was spilled from the plane, Chief Deputy Robert Keating said.

Kevin Waters, the president and director of operations of Penobscot Air, said Monday that while it’s too soon to say for sure what caused the crash, it sounded like it might be a mechanical problem.

“He was a very experienced guy. He did a heck of a job putting it down without getting hurt,” Waters said. “He took care of business flying that airplane.”

The National Transportation Security Board and the Portland Flight Standards Office were notified of the crash, Waters said, and would be sending someone to look at the scene today.

Waters said the pilot was leaving Islesboro to return to Rockland on a freight run when the crash occurred.

Fred Porter, Islesboro director of public safety, was the first to arrive at the scene. He said that the plane might have been 200 to 300 feet in the air before it crashed.

“The man’s lucky he walked away from it,” Porter said.

Islesboro fire and EMS crews secured the plane in the grove of spruce and hardwood trees where it came down and made sure it wasn’t on fire, Porter said.

The plane was demolished, with one wing entirely ripped off and the other wing clipped.

“[The pilot] was a little shook up when I arrived on-scene,” Porter said. “It’s one of those good stories. This is a good day for him to buy a lottery ticket.”

Chief Deputy Keating said the plane and crash scene are being secured until the NTSB inspectors arrive.

Islesboro police Officer Fred Porter and Islesboro Fire and Rescue Department also went to the crash scene.

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