STANDISH, Maine — A stunt pilot crashed his small plane Sunday evening on his way home from an airshow in Frenchville.
The crash happened just before 6 p.m. on Route 35 in Standish. Billy Werth told CBS 13 News he’s OK, but he was in the hospital at the time being checked out.
Werth said he was leaving the Acadian Heritage Air Show in Frenchville, and the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office said he was headed to Sanford Airport.
The plane was an experimental single-engine biplane, model Eagle 540, manufactured seven years ago, according to a press release issued Monday by David Fernald Jr., manager of the Northern Aroostook Regional Airport in Frenchville.
A spokesman for the FAA said the plane hit some trees and crashed after it experienced an engine-related problem.
“He was making such crazy turns, flying low and doing a bunch of turns, going this way and that way,” Jake Ciofli, a witness, said. “Then, 10 minutes later, we got here, and it was in a ditch.”
Werth said Sunday night he has been flying since 1988 and never had anything like this happen before. Werth said he was more concerned about where to land and dodging the cars on Route 35.
“This is kind of a wooded area, so I didn’t have a whole lot of choice on where to put the airplane down,” Werth said. “There were four cars on the road that I could see coming at me, but they were behind the trees so I knew they wouldn’t see me. So I kinda tried to fly it a little bit longer so I could miss those cars, which I did, so nobody got hurt. And I only have two stitches.”
“Billy walked away with only stitches in his hand,” Fernald said. “His very positive outcome with no injuries to people on the ground and only a cut on his hand is a testimony to Billy’s excellent airmanship.”
According to Werth’s website, he and his brother perform difficult aerobatic shows all over the country. The website says the brothers also offer thrill rides for the public. The Cumberland County sheriff’s deputy responding to the scene said Werth did a good job avoiding the cars that were on Route 35.
In a news release issued Monday, Billy Werth Airshows LLC noted the pilot logged an estimated 10,000 of total flight time, nearly half of them in the same type of aircraft. In addition, Werth is a certified flight instruction specializing in emergency procedures such as the one he experienced Sunday.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the incident.