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Paul Larochelle, Alton Bay Airport manager, left, stands with Kim Brown, 66, a pilot and aviation enthusiast from Hampton Falls, as Chris Clayton of Emerson Aviation in Gilford inspects the plane Brown crashed on the ice runway after his wing hit a snowbank on landing Saturday morning. (DAN SEUFERT/Union Leader Correspondent)

Pilot safe after crash landing on Alton ice runway

ALTON – A 66-year-old Hampton Falls pilot and aviation enthusiast crashed his small, home-built plane on the town's winter ice runway Saturday morning, but no one was hurt.

Kim Brown, who said he often flies to the state-owned Alton Bay Airport on the ice of Lake Winnipesaukee each winter, was landing his plane on the 2,600-foot airstrip at about 9:45 a.m. when his wing caught a snow bank, causing his plane to veer across the landing strip past several parked planes.

The plane, which had broken landing gear and a bent propeller, stopped just short of the town's bandstand in the middle of the bay.

"I just had a bad 2 or 3 seconds there, the wing caught the snow bank, and that was all it took," he said.

Brown got out and assessed the damage to his plane, an "experimental" plane that he spent 14 years building at his home. The plane was worth about $20,000 before the crash, he said. He doesn't have insurance that will cover the repairs.

Fire Department Capt. Mike Viscariello said Brown's plane "came in a little sideways" as he tried to land.

"He didn't quite land the way he wanted to, and his plane went off the runway," Viscariello said. "We checked him out at the scene and he was fine medically. He was a little shaken up."

"I wasn't too happy," said Brown, who was planning to stay at the airstrip for a while and then return home to Hampton Falls. He suffered no injuries. But he said the crash was "a pain in the neck."

"It was a beautiful place, it's a hot little plane, this is a beautiful place to land," he said. "It was my fault."

"The weather was perfect, the ice is perfect, there was no reason for him to crash," said Alton Bay Airport Manager Paul Larochelle. "It was very unfortunate. This kind of thing does happen once in a while at any airport. It's very rare here."

Also on the scene was Chris Clayton of Emerson Aviation in Gilford. He said the plane will be taken apart and then will be driven to the aviation company's hangers at Laconia Airport. There, FAA investigators will use the pieces of the plane to investigate the crash, Clayton said.

"It's too bad, it's a really nice plane," Clayton said.


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