Robert Lewandowski, 44, was making practice landings with his 1946 Aeronca Champion 7AC around 10 a.m. and was on his eighth landing when “something felt like it broke loose” on the single-engine aircraft, Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland said.
The plane veered off the runway, struck a snowbank and flipped over, coming to rest on its wings, according to McCausland.
Lewandowski said he thought the rear wheel on the plane had a problem.
“The rear wheel had a misconfiguration while landing,” he said. “It caused the plane to be uncontrollable when landing.”
The plane hopped over a snowbank and came to nearly a complete stop when it hit a second snowbank, he said. At that point, the plane started to roll forward.
“It was just in slow motion,” said Lewandowski.
He said he wasn’t injured.
“You jumping in your bed might hurt yourself worse than this,” Lewandowski said.
Lewandowski rented the fabric-wrapped plane from Morgan Aviation. It was training he received from Ken Morgan, the plane’s owner, that helped keep everyone safe, said Lewandowski.
“Ken Morgan’s training kicked in and it ended up being a near-nothing incident,” he said. “If not for him, a lot of things may have gone wrong.”
The plane suffered damage to the propeller and right wing strut, said Lewandowski.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the Maine State Police pilot supervisor both were notified of the accident, McCausland said. The FAA is reviewing the incident.
The plane was righted onto its wheels and moved to a hangar.