Houlton man survives crash of sport plane

Posted Aug. 09, 2009, at 7:52 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:14 p.m.

HODGDON, Maine — A Houlton man was slightly injured when his ultralight sport aircraft made an emergency landing in a field of uncut hay off U.S. Route 1 Saturday night, state police said Sunday.

Wesley Tidd, 49, suffered back and neck injuries. His JDT Mini-MAX airplane developed engine trouble and the engine quit about 20 minutes after he took off from Houlton Regional Airport shortly before 7 p.m., state police Trooper Brian Harris said.

With his engine failing, Tidd selected the hayfield near the U.S. Border Patrol station as his best landing spot and brought the plane down. It flipped once, nose first, and had only minor damage, a smashed cockpit windshield, as it came to rest on its roof, Harris said.

Despite his injuries, Tidd climbed from the plane. The wife of the hay farmer called 911 when she saw it go down about 7:15 p.m., Harris and state police dispatchers said.

“The damage was very minimal. He was very lucky. Anytime you survive a plane crash, you are very lucky,” Harris said Sunday.

Tidd was transferred to another facility after the Houlton Ambulance Service took him to Houlton Regional Hospital, a hospital spokeswoman said. She declined to say where he was taken.

Formerly TEAM Aircraft, JDT Mini-MAX LLC of Indiana makes kits that allow consumers to create their own, self-built aircraft, from ultralights to microlights and other experimental designs, according to the company’s Web site, jdtmini-max.com.

The exact model name of Tidd’s single-seater was unavailable Sunday.

The accident was the third crash Harris has handled, he said. An airplane crash in Westfield killed two, and another crash in Presque Isle killed a pilot. Both occurred in early 2000.

Harris declined to give the exact location of the crash, saying that as far as he knows, the airplane is still there, and the woman who reported the crash said she would rather not have people visiting the crash site.

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