Pilot, student walk away from Arundel plane crash

Posted June 16, 2012, at 11:57 a.m.
A pilot instructor and his student walked away Friday evening, June 15, 2012, from the wreck of this single-engine Cessna that went down in a &quotcontrolled crash" in the woods.
Courtesy photo
A pilot instructor and his student walked away Friday evening, June 15, 2012, from the wreck of this single-engine Cessna that went down in a "controlled crash" in the woods.

ARUNDEL, Maine — A flight instructor and his student pilot walked away Friday evening from the wreck of a plane that had essentially split in two when it went down in a controlled crash in the woods off Proctor Road.

“They literally walked out of the woods,” Sergeant David Chauvette of the York County Sheriff’s Office said Saturday morning.

Instructor Richard Whicker, 58, of North Berwick and his student, William Hart, 50, of Lyman, had just taken off from Biddeford Municipal Airport at a little after 6 p.m. in a single-engine Cessna 160 when the plane apparently had engine issues, Chauvette said.

“Witnesses describe it as sputtering and coughing sounds,” he said.

Whicker, a pilot with 40 years of experience, took the controls and made a U-turn back to the airport, according to the sergeant.

When the plane continued to have mechanical failure, Whicker carefully picked a spot to come in for the controlled crash landing. He chose a swampy area in the woods and managed to land it between trees, Chauvette said.

Witnesses reported the crash to authorities, as did the men who walked away from the plane.

The Biddeford Fire Department and Arundel Fire Department went to the scene, along with the York County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Whicker and Hart were taken to Southern Maine Medical Center in Biddeford, where they were treated and released for minor injuries, Chauvette said.

Investigators with the FAA were at the scene Saturday to look into what happened to the plane.

“At this point, we’re leaning toward mechanical issues with the plane,” the sergeant said.

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