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Pilot uninjured in test flight crash in Conewago Township

Written by Ted Czech/York Daily Record | Jul 3, 2017 3:22 AM
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A plane is retrieved from the end of a runway at the La-Z-B Airport off of Bull Road in Conewago Township after it crashed during a test flight.(Photo: Paul Kuehnel, York Daily Record)

(Undated) -- A pilot escaped injury after his small airplane crashed nose-down just off a runway Sunday afternoon at a Conewago Township airport, York County 911 officials said.

The crash occurred around 1:30 p.m. at the Lazy B Ranch Airport in the 3800 block of Bull Road, near East Canal Road, officials said. 

Thomas Makibbin, of Enola, said he had just helped his friend, pilot and owner Lawrence O. Nolte, of New Oxford, finish constructing the Zenith Zodiac.

"This was his first test flight of the airplane," Makibbin said. "The engine quit, the battery went dead, he lost fuel pressure."

While Nolte was in the air, Makibbin was in his own plane, with Nolte's wife, Linda Nolte, preparing to "fly chase" or follow Nolte, to make sure everything was alright in the air.

A single engine plane crashed at the La-Z-B Airport off of Bull Road in Conewago Township during a test flight. The pilot was not injured. Paul Kuehnel

 

Nolte was about 700 feet in the air when the engine failed, Makibbin said. He tried to troubleshoot the problem, all the while descending and scanning the ground, looking for the airport in case he needed to land, Makibbin said.

Nolte touched down about halfway on the 2,600-foot runway, Makibbin said.

"He was carrying so much speed, it bounced," he said.

He touched down again at the east end of the runway, skidded, hit a patch of grass, and struck a guardrail, Makibbin said.

The plane flipped onto its nose, but the guardrail held it from tumbling down the embankment. Nolte then climbed out of the cockpit, and clambered up to the runway. He escaped injury, other than scratches on his arms from briar bushes, Makibbin said.

After more than an hour of laboring with a crane, the airplane was pulled over the guardrail and righted, then towed back to the Lazy B Ranch's hangar.

Nolte, who was identified by his wife, was among those helping tow the plane.

At the hangar, Linda Nolte said her husband was "disappointed" at what had happened.

"He spent three-and-a-half years building it," she said.

In addition to her husband escaping injury, she could see that the plane had only sustained moderate damage.

"It was a very soft flop-over (the guardrail), because he had it all but stopped," she said.

This story is part of a partnership between WITF and the York Daily Record.

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