AUBURN — Kenneth Wolf looked up from a round of golf at Fox Ridge Golf Course on Saturday morning, saw “this nice little airplane gliding down, slick as could be” and figured it was a pilot out practicing maneuvers.

Minutes later, he heard the wail of an ambulance.

Department of Conservation Commissioner Patrick McGowan, bound for the Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport, made an emergency landing near the fourth hole at about 10 a.m. after running into engine trouble, according to Auburn police.

He and an unnamed passenger weren’t injured, but landing gear was sheared off the 1946 Aeronca Champ plane. There were no injuries on the ground.

Efforts to reach McGowan Saturday night were unsuccessful. After the crash, he told WCSH Channel 6 that he was 3,000 feet in the air when the engine failed. McGowan also said he’d been a pilot for 35 years.

The Federal Aviation Administration’s online civilian aviation registry lists McGowan, of Hallowell, as having a private pilot’s license to fly single-engine sea and land planes.

Wolf, a local ophthalmologist and a pilot of 45 years, said the Aeronca Champ came to rest level, in a gulch, with its fuselage intact.

“He did a super job to pull that off,” Wolf said.

McGowan and his passenger were out walking around afterward and one of them mentioned that the plane had recently been sold.

Auburn police said the trip started at the Waterville airport and that the FAA was investigating.

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