Wright Plane Crash

Pilot escapes replica-plane crash

A replica of a Wright brothers plane crashed on takeoff Saturday [August 16, 2003] during an air show in Bath, but the pilot escaped serious injury.

Dana Smith, 68, of Limerick was trying to gain enough speed to leave the ground when the front wheel of his plane hit the curb at the edge of a parking lot, officials said. "He never gained altitude," said Richard Chipman, a Bath firefighter and paramedic.

Chipman said Smith "was shaken up" but otherwise seemed OK. The plane sustained what Chipman described as moderate damage.

The accident occurred in front of about 100 people during an aviation show at Bath's new industrial park, called Wing Farm. The park is named for Harold Wing, who once ran a dairy farm there.

Smith builds and flies experimental aircraft - replicas of the planes the fathers of aviation designed and built.

The plane he was flying Saturday was a Wright brothers 1911 Model EX. It is the same kind of plane that Cal Rodgers flew during the first transcontinental flight, from Sheepshead Bay, N.Y., to Long Beach, Calif., in 1911.

Orville and Wilbur Wright built many of the planes for air shows around the country. This year is the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers' first flight, at Kitty Hawk, N.C., on Dec. 17, 1903. On that historic day, the Wright Flyer was airborne for 12 seconds, making it the first successful powered flight. The plane was powered with a four-cylinder, 12-horsepower gas engine.

During an interview earlier this summer, Smith talked about his love for flying Wright replicas.

"I have the only Wright brothers planes capable of going out and doing air shows," Smith said. "Most people don't fly them because they are very primitive and they don't fly very well."

Bath Fire Chief Stephen Hinds praised his department's crew for rushing to Smith's aid as the crash occurred Saturday. There were firefighters already on hand for the air show in case something went wrong.

Hinds said Smith was planning to lift off briefly from the ground and then touch down again. But his plane took a nose dive as it hit the curb, flipping over. Smith suffered cuts and bruises.

His wife, Tricia, witnessed the accident. "It was a little scary," she said. She said her husband was able to drive home after the accident.

The incident occurred during the opening of festivities that were planned as part of Ruth Law Day in Bath, in honor of the aviation pioneer.

On Aug. 9, 1913, before thousands of spectators at Wing Farm, Law went airborne for 23 minutes in a Model B Wright Flyer she bought from Orville Wright in 1912.

Law, who obtained her pilot's license in 1912, went on to set many aviation records. She died in 1970.

August 17, 2003

MORE (Another Crash)

TED COHEN, Portland Press Herald Writer

Deutscher Text

Wright Model EXA Closer Look
1911 “Vin Fiz”

© Portland Press Herald

Top of page

[HOME] [AVIATION] [How Airplanes fly] [History] [Records] [Humor] [News] [Photos] [Stories] [Stamps] [Sounds] [Movies] [HUMANS] [ORIGINS] [SCIENCE] [WEB LINKS] [SITE MAP] [CONTACT]