North Yarmouth, Durham pilots die in separate air crashes

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CAPE ELIZABETH — A North Yarmouth resident and a Durham doctor were killed Sunday in two separate air crashes.

The first accident occurred in the waters off Fort Williams Park at around noon when a single-engine airplane flown by Dr. Louis Jordan crashed and sank.

Hanson, 60, practiced medicine in Cumberland for 32 years before joining Mercy Yarmouth Primary Care last winter. He was flying a 1946 Stinson plane he had owned for more than a decade.

The preliminary Federal Aviation Adminstration report says only that the Stinson S 108 lost power. The plane has been retrieved as part of the accident investigation.

Briana Youland, who works Twitchell’s Airport and Seaplane Base in Turner, said Hanson had taken off from the air field Sunday morning.

Hanson was recalled by his wife, Julie Tate, for his dedication to his patients, love of his family and flight, and abundant cheer.

“He laughed easily and was a very happy man,” she said. “He was one of the few doctors who would happily make house calls.

Before setting out for Scarborough on Sunday to fly over his daughter’s house, Hanson first made his customary pass over his home in Durham.

Tate said he had asked her to fly along with him, but she declined because there were things to do at home. But she knew to listen for the sound of his engine, and that Hanson would circle the house two or three times before one last pass as she waved and blew kisses.

In return, he would tip the plane’s wings to greet her and their dogs.

His plane, which he called Isabella, brought Hanson immense joy, Tate said. On days when he couldn’t fly, he loved to go to the airfield in Turner and wash his plane.

“He would say ‘I’m going to give Isabella a bath,'” Tate recalled.

She said his desire to fly developed when he was a boy, watching planes pass over the Kansas farm where he grew up, and he began taking lessons a little more than a decade ago.

He discovered Isabella on sale in Turner, and bought it at Tate’s urging. She said she enjoyed making longer flights with him, including trips to Kansas.

“They were fun because they were so spontaneous,” she said.

The fatal crash came at the height of a sunny summer day in a park filled with visitors.

Carl Dittrich, a vendor at Fort Williams, said he saw the plane approach the park from the south. He said the plane was about 300 feet from the rocks on the shoreline and 500 feet from Portland Head Light.

Dittrich and Frank Marston operate food carts near the light house parking lot. Both said the plane’s altitude caught their eyes.

“It was pretty surreal, seeing the plane coming as low as it was,” Marston said.

Dittrich said he saw the plane hit the water; Marston said he saw the splash as he headed to the fence above the rocky shoreline at the park.

“There was a whale’s tale for like five seconds, then it was gone,” Dittrich said.

As the plane sank, Marston said he saw the occupant in the water. Marston had jumped the fence and was trying to get to the shoreline while watching the man swimming from the plane.

A helicopter passing by at the time of the crash dropped at flotation device, but Marston said the victim was already struggling.

“He couldn’t stay afloat,” Marston said. “I helped direct a speedboat over to where he had gone under.”

Barrow said the Coast Guard, Civil Air Patrol and local rescue crews searched the area for more than three hours before determining the victim was the only person aboard the plane.

The second accident, about seven hours later, killed William G. Gaddis, 75, of North Yarmouth. 

Gaddis reportedly took off from his private air strip at 367 Mill Road after 7 p.m., and crashed his ultralight into trees at 354 Mill Road. Cumberland County Chief Deputy Naldo Gagnon said Gaddis fell about 40 feet to his death after he freed himself from the aircraft.

North Yarmouth Fire and Rescue responded, and Gaddis was taken by Life Flight helicopter to Maine Medical Center in Portland. He was listed in critical condition as of 9 p.m. and was pronounced dead from his injuries by 11 p.m.

The sheriff’s and state medical examiner’s offices are investigating the matter.

Visiting hours for Hanson will be held 4-7 p.m. June 28 at Hobbs Funeral Home, 230 Cottage Road, South Portland. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m.  June 29 at Greely High School on Main Street in Cumberland.

Alex Lear contributed to this report. David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Updated to include comments from Julie Tate.

Sidebar Elements


With Two Lights in the distance, the City of Portland fireboat combs the waters off Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth on Sunday, June 24, after the crash of a single-engine plane.

Dr. Louis Hanson

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter flies over Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth on Sunday, June 24, after the crash of a single-engine plane in the water off Portland Head Light.

The Scarborough Public Safety Search & Rescue boat joins the search for the plane that crashed Sunday, June 24, in water off Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth.

Cape Elizabeth police, fire and rescue personnel gather in a parking lot near Portland Head Light at Fort Williams on Sunday, June 24, after a single-engine plane crashed in the ocean.

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.