SCARBOROUGH — The maiden flight of a Scarborough man’s new airplane ended Friday with a dive and a crash, injuring the plane’s owner and its pilot.
Jeff Greenleaf, 40, bought the aircraft last winter, according to Fire Chief Michael Thurlow. The plane was a single-engine Kitfox experimental plane, a build-at-home class of small aircraft.
Thurlow said Greenleaf had permission from his friend Fred Bayley, owner of Bayley’s Camping Resort, to use Bayley’s private airstrip on Ross Road for the inaugural flight.
Greenleaf enlisted his friend, Perry Fielding, a 63-year-old Scarborough pilot, to fly the craft.
Shortly after 6 p.m. Friday, after being airborne for only a few seconds, the plane carrying the two men crashed in a field off Ross Road.
Fielding was healing Monday and declined comment, but his wife, Stephanie, said in an interview that her husband has been flying for four decades. She said he is a recreational pilot and has always practiced safety.
“His whole family flies,” she said. “His father was a flight instructor in World War II. He taught Perry how to fly.”
Stephanie Fielding said Greenleaf enlisted her husband to fly the plane because he owns a similar aircraft. She said the two men had “talked and gone over everything for months” before taking off on June 10.
Stephanie Fielding said her husband didn’t remember what happened after takeoff, but said he believed a gust of wind may have caused the plane to dive. Fire Chief Thurlow said the craft had made it about 100 feet off the ground before crashing.
After the crash, Greenleaf pulled himself and an unconscious Perry Fielding out of the craft before calling 911, Thurlow said.
After Scarborough police, fire and EMS units arrived at the scene, both men were taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland with what police said were “serious injuries.” Thurlow said Greenleaf was released Friday night.
Stephanie Fielding said Perry Fielding was released Saturday night, and that he was doing “just fine, though he’s black and blue.”
Scarborough public safety officials said the official cause of the crash is still unknown.
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash. A spokeswoman for the FAA said it could be weeks or months before information is released.