ALLAGASH, Maine — The National Transportation Safety Board has released its preliminary findings on the March 24 airplane crash that killed a Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife warden pilot.
The report said federal investigators noted that the wreckage from the plane had been scattered across about 350 feet. It also reported extensive damage to the main cabin and said the propeller had separated from the engine and all three blades had been damaged.
Daryl Gordon, 60, of Eagle Lake, a 25-year veteran of the Maine Warden Service and a certified commercial pilot, was killed when the state-owned Cessna he was piloting crashed onto frozen Clear Lake about 30 nautical miles southwest of Ashland.
A search was initiated for Gordon after his wife, Rita, reported that he had not returned to their Eagle Lake home after the end of his patrol. Gordon and his plane were found during an intensive overnight search by his warden service colleagues and representatives from several other agencies.
According to the DIF&W, Gordon had dropped off the airplane he customarily flew at the department’s seaplane base in Greenville for routine maintenance earlier in the day. He left the Greenville area in another ski-equipped airplane to continue his patrol of remote northern Maine, providing information for law enforcement and wardens working on the ground and surveying the area for deer.
While on patrol, Gordon learned that another game warden had mired his snowmobile in deep slush on Eagle Lake, so Gordon stopped to help, according to the warden service. Gordon flew the warden to another location to retrieve a come-along that the pair used to free the snowmobile, and Gordon left about an hour later.
The game warden told federal investigators that almost immediately after Gordon’s airplane left, visibility was reduced to less than a half-mile because of snow.
A former pilot and former Maine game warden who was working on some encampments he owned about three miles west of Clear Lake the day of the accident told federal investigators that he heard an airplane operating on the lake. The former pilot said the engine sounded like the airplane was departing and he assumed it had departed.
Keith Holloway of the NTSB public affairs office said Thursday that a factual report regarding the accident will be filed, followed by a final report. It typically takes six to nine months after an accident for the factual report and 12-18 months for the final report, he said.