LOVELL – Pilot error was cited Friday as the likely cause of last summer’s fatal float plane crash into Kezar Lake, according to a new federal report issued Friday.

The pilot, Joseph Solari, 68, of Fryeburg was killed in the Aug. 4, 2007 wreck. His passengers, a family of four, escaped. One, a 5-year-old, suffered serious injuries.

In its probable cause report, the National Transportation Safety Board determined that “the pilot’s failure to retract the amphibious float plane’s landing gear during a water landing” led to the crash.

“The wreckage examination revealed – and witnesses observed – that the landing gear was in the extended position during landing. When the airplane touched down on the water, the airplane bounced and immediately nosed over inverted,” the report states.

Prior to the 10 a.m. crash, the report states that Solari had met passengers Kevin and Beth Lamberson of North Yarmouth at a family outing and offered to take them and their two young children on a sightseeing flight around the area that day.

Solari was chairman of the Eastern Slopes Regional Airport Authority, which leases the Fryeburg-owned airport. He was also a former Fryeburg Planning Board member.

The couple told investigators that prior to taking off from a private airstrip at 9:45 a.m. in Fryeburg, Solari gave them “a very good briefing on emergency evacuation procedures.” The takeoff and flight were uneventful.

During the landing, the plane came to rest upside down and sank, killing Solari.

Kevin Lamberson, who was seated beside Solari, kicked out the windshield while his wife, who was seated behind her husband and holding their 3-year-old son Kyle, escaped out the plane’s rear emergency exit.

After surfacing, the couple realized their 5-year-old daughter Lauren, who was seated behind Solari, as well as the pilot had not gotten out of the plane.

Rescuers arrived almost immediately in boats. One dove to get Solari and the girl, but couldn’t unbuckle the seat belts, the report states. He returned to the surface. Beth Lamberson, who knew how to release the seat belt, took the man’s goggles, dove into the lake and rescued her daughter.

Lauren Lamberson suffered serious injury while the couple and their son suffered minor injuries.

Solari died from blunt force trauma to the head and neck and drowning, according to an autopsy performed on the pilot three days later by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Augusta.

The NTSB probable cause report and a full narrative can be found at http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/brief.asp?ev_id=20070814X01185&key=1.



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