SURRY — When a small private plane made a forced landing in Morgan Bay last week, neither the pilot nor his passenger was seriously injured.
Their single-engine, two-seat Cessna 150, however, was marooned upside down on a pile of rocks about 150 yards from the shore of Newbury Neck.
Last Saturday, “Diver Ed” Monat, from Bar Harbor, and Captain Wid Minctons’ salvage barge Charles Bradley from Southwest Harbor recovered the plane intact in an operation that Monat said lasted about 90 minutes from start to finish. According to Monat, he first attached straps from the barge-mounted crane to the plane to flip it right-side up. Then the straps were shifted into position to hoist the plane onto the barge.
“We had to make sure the wings drained (of water) and it was nose-up,” before hoisting, Monat said. “Everything worked as we hoped it would.”
Once the plane was on the barge it was taken to Southwest Harbor. The damaged aircraft was unloaded at the Hinckley Co. boatyard on Monday afternoon.
“The guy that owns it and the pilot haven’t seen it yet,” Monat said Monday morning.
Saturday marked Monat’s second visit to the crash site. On Tuesday of last week, he dove to the airplane in an attempt to recover the personal belongings of the pilot and the pilot’s wife, the passenger in the plane when it went down. Monat said he was able to recover the passenger’s backpack as well as an iPad the pilot had been using for navigation.
Despite trying again after the plane was salvaged, Monat was unable to locate the backpack belonging to the pilot or his wife’s cell phone.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the flight was bound for the Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport from the Morrisville-Stowe State Airport in Morristown, Vt., a distance of about 210 air miles. The Cessna 150, last manufactured in 1977, has a maximum range of between 350 and 450 air miles on a full fuel tank, according to several published reports, but according to a report by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the Cessna 150 was “more prone to fuel exhaustion” — running out of gas — than comparable light aircraft.
According to its website, the C150 Safety Review “was established in 2014 to address safety concerns” regarding aircraft and investigated more than 1,000 Cessna 150 accidents worldwide.
According to the review, “fuel exhaustion due to pilots failing to comprehend the abnormally high quantity of unusable fuel … inaccurate fuel gauges and higher than anticipated fuel consumption” were among the leading causes of accident in this type of aircraft.
So far, there has been no official determination of the probable cause of last week’s accident in Morgan Bay. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating and anticipates publishing a preliminary report by Monday, Aug. 31.