2012-06-29 / Front Page

Downed Plane Recovered from Ocean

By Jack Flagler
Staff Writer

 

Dr. Louis Hanson's airplane sits in South Port Marine, where workers will disassemble it. Meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington, D.C. will continue its investigation into the cause of the crash. Hanson was killed when his plane went down in the water off the coast of Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth on Sunday, June 24. (Jack Flagler photos) Dr. Louis Hanson's airplane sits in South Port Marine, where workers will disassemble it. Meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington, D.C. will continue its investigation into the cause of the crash. Hanson was killed when his plane went down in the water off the coast of Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth on Sunday, June 24. (Jack Flagler photos) The small aircraft that crashed in the water near Fort Williams Park on Sunday, June 24 was taken out of the ocean Tuesday, but the exact cause of the crash is still unknown.

Keith Holloway, public affairs officer at the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington, D.C., said the NTSB is collecting information about the pilot and the aircraft in hopes of finding the cause of the accident. 

Holloway said it is still “too early” to determine those causes. After the NTSB finishes gathering information, the organization will determine whether any mechanical failure occurred that caused the crash.

Dr. Louis Hanson was killed when the plane he was flying crashed into the water about 100 yards from Portland Head Light just before noon on Sunday.

Hanson was the only person on board the aircraft, according to Lt. Nick Barrow of the Coast Guard. Hanson took off from Twitchell Airport in Turner on Sunday around 10 a.m. 

Dale Twitchell, the general manager and owner of the airport and seaplane base, said Hanson had been flying planes since 2002. Twitchell said Hanson did not stop by the office or speak to anyone at the airport before he left on Sunday morning.

Cape Elizabeth Police Chief Neil Williams said witnesses told officers that they saw Hanson’s plane come down and the pilot briefly surface to shore before he went underwater again.

Cape Elizabeth Fire and Rescue Chief Peter Gleeson said he received a call at 11:59 a.m. that the plane had gone down near Fort Williams. By the time the fire and rescue team arrived, Gleeson said that medical personnel were already attending to Hanson.

Barrow said some civilians attempted to administer CPR to Hanson when they reached the pilot, but he was unresponsive with no vital signs when medical personnel attended.

The Coast Guard Station based in Portland launched a 25-foot response boat to search the water for other passengers. The Coast Guard also launched a helicopter from Cape Cod immediately after the accident. 

The Coast Guard vessels were joined in the search by additional boats from Cape Elizabeth,  Portland Cape and Scarborough to search for anyone else who may have been on the plane.

Barrow said the patrol continued through the afternoon until the Coast Guard could confirm that Hanson was the only one in the plane, which was complicated by the fact that there was no flight plan. 

"Filing a flight plan isn’t required, but it always helpful if an emergency happens," said Tiffany N. Hayes, the operations unit controller at Sector Northern New England, in a press release. "When an accident happens, we can find you faster if we have that plan,” she said.

Ultimately, divers from the Maine State Police found the plane under water with no one in the vicinity. Both Hanson's wife and staff at the Twitchell airport also reported that the pilot usually flew alone. The search was ultimately suspended in the afternoon.

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