OLD TOWN, Maine — The 48 planes based at Dewitt Field are, for the most part, small, personal aircraft, but one that landed Monday is exceptionally minuscule.
Dave Robins, 29, touched down at the airport on Monday after flying more than 3,000 miles from Mojave, Calif., to Old Town in his 700-pound, 14-foot-long KR-2 experimental plane. Airport staff said it was the smallest plane ever to land on the strip.
Robins started flying at age 15. He said he bought the KR-2 in 2009. Someone built the kit aircraft in a garage in 1981, but it hadn’t flown since 1991.
The plane, which is two years older than its pilot, has spent about 300 hours, or roughly 39,000 miles, in the air, Robins said.
At his day job, Robins maintains and repairs unmanned aerial vehicles in Afghanistan as a contractor for the military.
During his time stateside, Robins said he’s taking time to fly across the country and “hit up all four corners of the U.S.” He is scheduled to return to Afghanistan in three weeks.
Robins plans to fly from Maine to Florida, with a stop in Virginia to spend time with his sister, before continuing on to Washington state. He started his journey on June 6.
The KR-2 runs on a Volkswagen engine and can cover about 800 miles on one tank of fuel. The aircraft is so light that Robins said he sometimes practices steering the plane by leaning in the direction he wants to go.
He avoids storms wherever possible because his vehicle isn’t built for severe conditions.
“There was a lot of ducking and dodging in the Gulf [of Mexico region],” Robins said.
Fully loaded, with a few days’ supply of clothes, food, survival gear, fuel and pilot, the plane weighs in at about 1,000 pounds. At one point on Monday at the Old Town airport, Robins decided to turn the fiberglass and wood plane around, so he picked up the tail and rotated the aircraft 180 degrees.
The wings can be pulled off the plane, allowing the whole thing to fit in a garage.
Robins has friends and former colleagues who work for Carter Aero Works, an aircraft maintenance and flight instruction company based at DeWitt Field, so the trip to Old Town allowed him to visit friends as well as one of the nation’s four corners.
Robins is scheduled to leave Old Town on Tuesday after finishing repairs on his brakes.