Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Smith Cub N945SP: Accident occurred June 4, 2013 in Lake Chesdin, Virginia

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - The plane that crashed into Lake Chesdin is out of the water, after a six-hour process. The two pilots who were riding in it, are saying prayers of thanks. 

"It's been an extremely tedious process getting this plane right-side up, and back on shore," said R.L. Dunn, who used his crane to get the plane ashore.

Dunn lives right off the lake, and is also friends with the pilots who flipped the pontoon plane, Frank Isbell and Doug Smith. Dunn rushed outside after they crashed.

"Luckily, they walked away from it…could have been worse," said Dunn.

Isbell is a veteran pilot of 37 years, but says mistakes can still happen. Isbell was trying to avoid a boat, and forgot to take up the landing gear. When the $100,000 plane hit the water, it overturned head-first.

"We got there, and it was upside down, barely sticking out of the water," said Dunn.

Both men stayed calmed, and unstrapped themselves from the plane's seat. The made it safely to the surface of the water.

"The Lord was with them. They got out. And luckily, (Isbell's) cell phone still worked, and he called for help," continued Dunn.

Officials spilled less than 15 gallons of fuel into the water, which was contained by orange booms.

Officials tested other areas of the lake, and say the water is safe.

The owner of the plane is responsible for paying for all of this clean-up. Isbell says he has insurance to cover most of it.

It is legal for a pontoon plane to land on Lake Chesdin, but the Richmond-Office FAA is still investigating the incident.

 Posted on: 9:09 pm, June 4, 2013, by Nick Dutton and Jon Burkett, updated on: 06:49am, June 5, 2013  

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WTVR) — No one was injured after a pontoon plane crashed on Lake Chesdin in Chesterfield County Tuesday evening.

Two fishermen told CBS 6 News’ Jon Burkett that it was a frightening few seconds as they watched what happened. The pair said the plane was coming in to land just before 5:30 p.m. when the aircraft started to hit the water the plane flipped.

The fishermen said they wasted no time rushing to help the pilot, later identified by state police as 51-year-old Frank Isbell, and his passenger.

“We are ok,” said the pilot as he and his passenger floated in, one sitting on the belly side of the pontoon plane, the other hanging onto the side.

The Smith Cub fixed winged single-engine plane  was towed by good Samaritans to a nearby floating dock with a crane.  There the crane’s owner very carefully helped lift the plane out of the water.  The operation carefully calibrated the weight and size of the craft, as the plane’s wing span was about 36 feet.

The pilot and his passenger had spent most of the day at Lake Chesdin, practicing water landings and take-offs. On the 13th landing try, the plane flipped.

Johnny Mazza is good friends with what he says is an experienced pilot.  The information he gathered suggested the landing gear was down on the plane when it should’ve been up.

At sunset, police and fire crews got to the scene.  The pilot had already alerted the FAA, and Chesterfield Police alerted state troopers.

State police said the pilot failed to put the wheels of the plane up before landing and that as the plane touched down, the aircraft overturned nose first into the water.

No fuel was spilled when the plane was submerged, but hazmat crews were on standby in case any fuel is spilled when the plane was righted.

The crash remains under investigation by state police and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Story and Video:

Local residents use crane to haul downed plane out of Lake Chesdin:

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