Guillaume de Ramel was identified as the pilot who landed a plane on a sandbar in the Quabbin Reservoir.
BELCHERTOWN - The man who landed his private plane on a sandbar in the Quabbin Reservoir last month apparently changed his story as the investigation got underway.
William Pula, regional director of the Quabbin and Ware River watersheds for the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, said he was told that Guillaume de Ramel, 42, of Newport, Rhode Island, initially indicated that he had intentionally landed his 2015 fixed-wing Seawind plane on the sandbar north of Mount Russ and Mount L.
As of Thursday, charges had not been filed against the pilot.
When a state police helicopter landed nearby to investigate and other troopers arrived by boat, Mr. de Ramel, a financial analyst and philanthropist, then allegedly told police he'd had mechanical problems with the plane, Mr. Pula said.
"His story did change," Mr. Pula said, repeating comments he made at a recent Quabbin Watershed Advisory Committee meeting.
The day of the crash, Mr. Pula indicated the pilot had told investigators he was "doing a touch-and-go landing." Later, state police said Mr. de Ramel had made an emergency landing.
Molly de Ramel said after the incident that her husband was en route to their vacation home in Vermont and that she had driven to Belchertown to pick him up.
Mr. Pula said Mr. de Ramel tried to persuade officials to let him fly the plane out but instead it was lifted off the sandbar by a helicopter and moved to the Orange Airport. He said the Federal Aviation Administration, state police and Department of Conservation and Recreation staff were investigating.
Because the reservoir provides drinking water to Boston and Chicopee, such incidents are taken very seriously, but in this case, "there was never a threat to the drinking water," Mr. Pula said. Because of the current drought, Worcester residents are also getting water from the Quabbin, Mr. Pula said.
Because of the low water levels, sandbars that aren't typically visible are obvious now. The level of the reservoir drops 6 inches per day right now, Mr. Pula said.
For those unfamiliar with the Quabbin, its vast, remoteness can be surprising. In December 1997, a small plane crashed between Prescott Peninsula and Target Island. It sank in 80 feet of water, killing the pilot. A passenger was saved but only, Mr. Pula said, because the annual deer hunt was going on and two hunters saw the crash. Had the men not been hunting in the area, the crash could have gone unnoticed for some time, he said.
Mr. de Ramel paid the cost of removing the plane, Mr. Pula said.
SEAWIND LLC: http://registry.faa.gov/N89XL
FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Windsor Locks FSDO-63
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
City: NEW SALEM
AIRCRAFT, EXPERIMENTAL CUB CRAFTERS CCK1865, FORCE LANDED ON A SAND BAR AT A RESERVOIR, NEAR NEW SALEM, MASSACHUSETTS.