CONWAY — The owner of the Cessna 150 airplane that plopped down in a North Conway cornfield Monday morning said he had rented out the plane to a pilot who crashed it because he ran out of gas.
The owner, Florian Corriveau, 73, of Whitefield, was busy Tuesday at the site trying to remove the plane.
No one was injured during the emergency landing following a loss of engine power, according to a statement from the Federal Aviation Administration, which is conducting an investigation of the crash.
The plane landed at 10:35 a.m. in the cornfield behind Dunkin’ Donuts north of Echo Acres Road, according to neighbors who heard the plane flying low and the FAA, which did not release the pilot’s name.
The plane is a single-engine fixed-wing model that was manufactured in 1961.
On Tuesday afternoon, Corriveau provided few details while disassembling the plane, which was going to be loaded onto a trailer for its trip back to Whitefield.
“I’m going to try and get this out of here before the rain starts up,” said Corriveau, explaining he didn’t have much time to chat.
About a dozen people were at the field, including federal and state investigators; North Conway Fire Chief Pat Preece; a friend of Corriveau’s, David Presby of Whitefield; and several staff members of a company he owns, Presby Environmental, who were helping Corriveau remove the plane.
Presby said a few other people just showed up and offered to help.
An online search shows that Corriveau is president of a company called Roll-In-Aero based out of Whitefield. Online paperwork with the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s Office says the company does flight instruction, fuel sales, charter flights and aerial photography. The company was formed in 1990.
Corriveau declined to give the name of the pilot who had rented the plane to him but did say the pilot had run out of gas.
No one was reported injured in the crash, which flipped the plane over on its roof, and Corriveau said he believes the pilot is doing fine.
However, he said he wasn’t sure if the airplane was salvageable and would find out more once it was taken apart.
Corriveau said he’s been flying since 1960.
Investigators at the scene wouldn’t comment and referred the reporter to the FAA’s public relations office, which had no new information to offer at press time.
Presby said he was there to help his friend Corriveau get the plane out of the field. He said they were in the process of taking the wings off the plane and would put the main body of the plane on one trailer, the wings on another trailer, and then haul it away and reassemble it elsewhere.
Presby said he was confident the plane could be fixed. He has helped recover six or seven airplanes in his life.
“It’s not all that badly damaged,” he said. “I’ve seen a whole lot worse.”
He said the plane weighs less than 1,000 pounds and could be loaded onto a standard trailer.
The plane was upside-down when they arrived but he and his crew were able to pick up the plane by hand and roll it over.
“It looks big, but it’s really light,” he said.
Presby said there wasn’t much fluid leakage because the plane was out of gas.
He said he and his crew were helping his old friend gratis since Corriveau has been a good friend for 15 years.
“He said, ‘I got a problem,’ and I said ‘I’ll go help you,’ and here I am,” said Presby.
Presby believes the pilot was coming back from Pennsylvania.
David Cullinan, manager of Eastern Slopes Regional Airport in Fryeburg, Maine, said the pilot had practiced take offs and landings at the airport on Monday but added that the pilot didn’t get out of the plane in Fryeburg.
Cullinan said “fuel exhaustion” is not unheard of. He said that can be caused by an undetected fuel leak or complacency. He said airplane fuel evaporates quickly.
“It happens,” he said.
Story and photo courtesy of Damon Steer, Conway Daily Sun (8/17/16)