Sunday, December 17, 2017

Golden Circle Air T-Bird II, N5619Z: Accident occurred December 17, 2017 at Wiscasset Municipal Airport (KIWI), Lincoln County, Maine

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Portland, Maine

NTSB Identification: GAA18CA105 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, December 17, 2017 in Wiscassett, ME
Aircraft: GOLDEN CIRCLE AIR T BIRD II, registration: N5619Z

NTSB investigators will use data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator, and will not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

Aircraft veered off departing runway. Hit snow bank and flipped over.

Date: 17-DEC-17
Time: 20:30:00Z
Regis#: N5619Z
Aircraft Model: T BIRD II
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: TAKEOFF (TOF)
State: MAINE

Gusty wind apparently forced an airplane taking off from Wiscasset Municipal Airport Sunday back down and into the snow near the runway, interim airport manager Rick Tetrev said.

Longtime pilot Charlie Gabelmann, the ultralight plane’s lone occupant, was not hurt, Tetrev said in a phone interview Sunday evening. He described Gabelmann as shaken up after the accident, which Tetrev said cracked the plane in half. The plane was later hauled to Gabelmann’s hangar at the airport, Tetrev said.

Tetrev was called to the airport. Wiscasset Airport Advisory Committee Chairman Steve Williams  called the Portland tower to alert the Federal Aviation Administration, Tetrev said. Williams confirmed he did and said he believed Wiscasset police did, as well.

Williams, a pilot, said in a phone interview, he arrived at the airport shortly after the incident on other business. He hadn’t heard about the accident; when he got there and saw an emergency vehicle, he thought it might be there for a Lifelight transport. Then he saw two police cruisers and the aircraft. By then Gabelmann was in a truck that was being set up to haul the aircraft, Williams said.

Despite the damage to the plane, he was not surprised the pilot was unhurt because the cockpit was intact, Williams said. He also was not surprised about the damage, for two reasons: The plane was an ultralight and the snow near the runway didn’t allow the plane to roll as it might have on grass, he said.

The FAA barred all aircraft from landing in Wiscasset; the ban was later lifted and access to the runway returned to normal, he said.

The FAA did not respond to the scene, he said. He expects it will as part of the investigation.

Asked about the incident’s handling, Tetrev said, between the pilots’ professionalism and the town’s response with emergency crews, “It was marvelous. It went smoothly, like clockwork, and that’s how it’s supposed to go.”

The response was stellar, Williams said.

Wiscasset Fire Chief T.J. Merry said the department was dispatched to the airport shortly after 3 p.m. and checked to make sure the craft was not at risk of catching fire; fuel did not leak from the aircraft, Merry said. No ambulance was called to the scene because it was known there were no injuries, he said.

Williams said Gabelmann is a certified flight instructor and an excellent pilot. “He’s very safe and takes extensive retraining,” Williams said.

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No injuries were reported after a small aircraft slid off the runway during takeoff at Wiscasset Municipal Airport on the afternoon of Sunday, Dec. 17.

According to Sergeant Craig Worster of the Wiscasset Police Department, the aircraft was on the runway when a crosswind grabbed the small plane pushing it off the paved area and into the snow.

Worster said no injuries were reported as a result of the crash and the pilot was the sole occupant of the aircraft when it slid off the runway.

Worster said the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board had been contacted regarding the incident.

Worster said he believed the aircraft would be removed from the runway shortly.

Lincoln County Communications paged out the Wiscasset Fire Department at 3:23 p.m.

Joining the fire department at the scene were units from the Wiscasset Police Department.

The identity of the pilot was not immediately available at the scene.

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