CARRABASSETT VALLEY — A Bethel pilot and his passenger were “very lucky” to survive when their airplane lost power and crashed into Poplar Mountain on Oct. 20, a Maine warden said Wednesday.

Pilot Karl Olson, 30, and Michael Orsini, 26, of Raymond took off from Sugarloaf Regional Airport in Carrabassett Valley in a single-engine Cessna C 172, which lost power and plunged propeller-first into trees on the south side of the mountain, Warden Dan Christianson said.

Neither Olson nor Orsini was hurt.

“They were lucky. That is for sure,” Christianson said. “It could have been a fatality.”

Christianson said Olson told him the plane lost power and he brought it down as slow as possible into the trees. It “landed on its propeller,” he said.

The trees were small enough that when the plane went into the first tree, it uprooted and basically bent over with the plane into other trees. There was no significant damage; no windows were broken, Christianson said.


Christianson said he received a report of an airplane crash at 2:53 p.m. Oct. 20. Dispatchers told him there were no injuries and no fluids leaking so rescue crews were not called out.

Christianson said he and some of Olson’s friends bushwhacked their way from near Ira Mountain in Kingfield nearly three-quarters of a mile to the crash site, which was north of Kingfield and near the Somerset County border. Olson and Orsini had started walking out but Christianson told them to walk back to the plane.

Christianson led investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration to the site the next day.

Jim Peters, representative of FAA Public Affairs for the New England Region, said the plane was headed south for a few miles before turning east and crashing a short time later. He said the crash is classified as an aviation accident, based on the FAA’s examination of the aircraft at the crash site. The FAA will continue to investigate on behalf of the National Transportation Safety Board, he wrote in an email. 

“(Olson and Orsini) were very lucky and certainly glad they had their safety harnesses on,” Christianson said.

The fixed wing plane was manufactured in 1966, according to FAA online records.

Attempts to reach Olson on Wednesday were unsuccessful.

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