N.S. farmer, 70, who watched kit plane crash says his flying days are over
May 23, 2008, Berwick, N.S. - Robert Clark was looking forward to flying his new plane, but instead he's decided, with the help of his worried wife, that his days as a pilot are over.
May 23, 2008, Berwick, N.S. – Robert Clark was looking forward to flying his new plane, but instead he's decided, with the help of his worried wife, that his days as a pilot are over. Clark, 70, a farmer with a passion for aircraft, watched helplessly from the ground on Thursday as his S7S Rans Courier
single-engine plane crashed into trees behind his 40-hectare farm near Berwick, N.S.
The aircraft, piloted by Clark's 70-year-old friend Burckhard Woelky, of Mahone Bay, N.S., was on it's inaugural flight when it went down. Amazingly, Woelky, who helped build the plane, walked away without a scratch.
"One thousand hours ago, it was a kit in a box,'' Clark said at the crash site.
"I was going up next. I guess I won't make it today.'' In fact it's unlikely he'll ever climb into a cockpit again. "My wife says I won't. I have two choices: stay with her or fly.''
Clark said he's had mishaps in the past, crashing an aerobatics plane near Liverpool, N.S., and in 1985 being thrown from the cockpit in another crash landing. He suffered only minor injuries in both incidents.
"Surviving is good luck, and I've been very fortunate,'' he said. Woelky said the aircraft engine was running perfectly when he took off but when he'd got up to about 200 metres it suddenly stopped.
"I pushed the nose down really hard to keep the speed. And then I saw this field and was going for it,'' he said after his first ever accident. Unfortunately, he said, he didn't have enough altitude to clear treetops next to the field and slammed into a grove of hardwoods, suspending the plane about nine metres from the ground.
Woelky, who was able to pry open a door, crawl out of the cockpit and climb down, says the accident won't deter him from flying again. "That engine is a very good design. It's flown worldwide, there are hundreds of thousands of them in the world,'' he said.
A crane was being sent to remove the plane from the trees. Clark said it does not appear to be a writeoff and may be salvageable.
(Halifax Chronicle Herald)