St. David man crashes power glider and lives to tell the tale

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6 July 2012

ST. DAVID– A man is fortunate to have escaped injury after he lost altitude while piloting a recreational aircraft and crash landed into a tree canopy while flying in St. David late Thursday evening.

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STILL HANGING IN THERE - Friday morning, the PPG recreational aircraft was still suspended in the top boughs of the pine trees in which it crash-landed. Luke Beaulieu and family members were at the site puzzling over how to remove the machine from it's perch approximately 60 feet off the ground. - Pettengill Jerkins image

“That’s probably a once-in-a-career call,” said Sergeant Ross Dubois of the Madawaska Police Department who responded to the scene to help with crowd control.

Interim Madawaska Fire Chief Peter Parent said his department received the call about the crash at 8:22 p.m. Thursday evening. He reported that 18 responders from the Madawaska Rescue Team went to the scene to assess the situation where they found the pilot, Luke Beaulieu, of St. David suspended in the tree just below the aircraft.

Beaulieu was flying his powered power glider (PPG), a member of the ultralight family of recreational aircraft, above his family’s property along Route 1 in St. David when he noticed he was losing altitude as he attempted to maneuver a turn.

Parent said Beaulieu appeared in good health when they arrived on the scene, but the responders were concerned with his precarious position below the aircraft that was still dangling about 60 feet high in the branches of the pine trees that broke its fall. When the responders determined that the department lacked the necessary experience and equipment to remove Beaulieu from the tree, they called in reinforcements. Andrew Marquis of Marquis Tree Service arrived on the scene shortly before a crew of seven high-angle climbers from the Edmundston Fire Department.

“Marquis brought his experience and equipment for tree climbing,” said Parent.

Beaulieu conversed and joked with the rescue crews while they worked to first unstrap him from the glider to relocate him to a nearby tree placing him out of the immediate potential danger of the glider falling on top of him. Once he was relocated, the crews then lowered him safely to the ground at approximately 10:15 p.m. An ambulance crew checked him over and found him to be uninjured.

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LUKE BEAULIEU - Safe and sound and on the ground. - Pettengill Jerkins image

“I was just hanging out in the tree for a couple of hours,” said Beaulieu.

“He was very lucky,” said Parent. “It could have been a lot worse.”

When Beaulieu noticed he was losing altitude, he looked for the closest spot to land, which happened to be the canopy of an old tree farm. Parent said that because the treetops were all even, the landing was actually quite soft compared to what it might have been in a natural forest with mixed trees.

Beaulieu agreed with the assessment of the landing, saying it was an “ideal location in the top of the evergreens.”

“What a soft landing it was,” he said. “I was like, wow, this is just like a Serta mattress.”

His family, who were watching from a nearby field as Beaulieu flew, and crashed, his craft, rushed to the trees to check on his condition.

 “It was all part of my strategy, I wanted to put on a grand finale,” joked a safe and sound Beaulieu the morning after the incident.

His nephew Josh Beaulieu, who works as a paramedic and firefighter in Connecticut and was visiting for the holiday, talked him through the situation until help arrived, reminding him to stay as still as possible, but to also keep his legs moving to prevent loss of circulation.

“It was great,” said Beaulieu. “I was like, wow, I’m really on top of the world now. It doesn’t get any better than this.”

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BEFORE - Luke Beaulieu prepares for take-off before his unfortunate crash. - Image courtesy of Joshua Beaulieu

Though he was happy to have his feet on the ground after the rescue, Beaulieu said one of his first thoughts was, “How am I going to get my plane down?”

Beaulieu purchased the aircraft a little more than a month ago, and has only been flying for three or four weeks. A license or specific training is unnecessary for these types of vehicles. In fact, the only crashes the FAA requires a pilot to report are those involving injury or death. Beaulieu said the incident would not keep him from flying again, however.

“If I can get this down this afternoon,” he said Friday morning, “then I might take it out again tonight.”

Parent thanked Marquis and the high-angle rescue team from Edmundston for their quick response to the scene.

Comments

It's unfortunate...

...that he did not learn his lesson from this accident. Next time he has an accident, he may not come out smelling like a rose. I have a friend who's landing gear collapsed while making a landing and it scared the heck out of him; this happened 10 years ago and he has not flown his own aircraft since that incident. It's hard to believe that the FAA does not require some formal training for these glider pilots.

Mr.Beaulieu...

I am relieved Mr. Beaulieu is ok,,,,and safe,,,,but I have to wonder..who foots the bill for Mr Marquis....?....

my3sons

If you're not paying then it should not be any of your concern CORRECT???? Mr. Marquis will greatly benefit from the attention.

If the town paid for that

If the town paid for that call ,,,then it is my concern,,,,,,

my3sons

Wow it is all about money for you huh??? The man is alive and I am sure Luke pays his taxes like you do, unless you only live in an apartment. People have all kinds of accidents no matter if it is on 4 wheelers or motorcycles or cars and so on and should they be charged as well? Wow, you must be one miserable person behind that phony name!!!!

relax yaya..[phony name?]..I

relax yaya..[phony name?]..I have 3 sons..nothing phony about it....it was a question,,not an attack on Luke,,,,,a question.....simple answer....you are blowing this up,,

my3sons

This is what you posted (If the town paid for that call ,,,then it is my concern,,,,,, Submitted by my3sons on 9 July 2012 - 1:22am.) So you call this a question? I personally think it is a statement! Just sayin' Well enough said about you and this article.....I see how people are and their true colors and it really makes me sick! I am done here and I hope you some how cheer up and be happy the man is not dead. If you feel differently then that is your opinion and no need to voice it if it is a cold one because he does have family that read this and they do not need to see all this negative feed back!

WOW..

Do you question it every time emergency crews are called out? I wonder about the few and I am glad to say "few" negative remarks. Why it is some people feel the need to leave negative comments under such a remarkable story? Is it because he wasn't crying? Is it because he wasn’t killed or injured? Would it have been better accepted if it were all the above? Is it because he plans to continue with his lifelong dream? Is it because it was a PMG and not a 4 wheeler? I have to wonder sometimes about the kind of society we live in. I'm sure Mr. Beaulieu is happy to escape unharmed and is very thankful for the help he received. Maybe people should take some time to get to know him before crucifying him. I’m in disbelief that people can be this way. I wonder if staying anonymous helps with that? No need to answer because the answer is abvious.

It's all fun until someone gets hurt!

It's just lucky that LUKE BEAULIEU did not get hurt! I'm an Airline pilot who is from the Valley with 20,000 hours+ experience and there is a reason they call aircraft like his experimental. I would never fly one. From the looks of it, he may be waiting a while to get it repaired correctly. Maybe he will consider going to Frenchville and get a lesson or two from a Certified Flight instructor and learn the basics. Hey most folks don't get a do over! EB

Response to ebouchard

With all due respect, Mr. Bouchard, you might want to practice what you preach and not comment or judge with such inadequate knowledge.

Ultralight aircraft are not experimental aircraft. Federal Aviation Regulations part 103 makes no such reference as such. Perhaps you are thinking about Experimental/Amateur Built or the ELSA class of Light Sport Aircraft, of which this is not.

I understand that Mr. Beaulieu did receive training from a Certified Instructor, something not adequately available in Frenchville or in Northern Maine for this type of "vehicle" (FAR 103 term). Most aviation incidents are pilot error and as the pilot in command, Mr. Beaulieu appears to have made a personal choice to fly low downwind of a mountain over his relative's property. To assume he had no training is erroneous. Because FAA doesn't require it does not mean he didn't receive it.

Your preference to "never fly one" is a non-debatable personal choice but is fool hardy to imply a parachute flying at 25 mph is unsafe. Motor off landings appear to be the norm with these little craft and typically not a question of survival compared to your preferred aircraft.

No apologies here but you really struck out on this one.

Yes I am glad he is ok

As some people say "if you fall off your bike you have to get back right up there and try again!" I know Luke had lessons with an instructor and he also initiated more. Now with this experience he may want to get a few more lessons, lol. Flying is maybe something I would never do but if that is what he enjoys then so be it! No need to insult anyone especially if that is what he enjoys doing! It was an accident and not like he planned on being up in the tree. So anyway those of you who were quick to leave rude comments at least Luke is alive and well! Also what happened to the comminuty pulling together to helping one another???

Rude

Falling out of an Airplane is a bit different than falling off a bike. Please do me a favor and comment on things you know about! EB

Rude?

Bouchard totally missed the point about going back to the task and sticking with it, as with a falling off a bike incident. The phrase has also been used with falling off a horse.

The apparent tunnel vision or black & white mentality is where Bouchard failed to get the point, I believe.

He was incorrect once again with his assessment. Nobody fell out of an airplane. Perhaps Bouchard's blunder on this one relates to the motorized craft which normally hangs below the parachute, implying to him that it was not supposed to and fell from above. Another example of inadequate knowledge to be able to comment intelligently or maybe just shooting from the hip.

Nice try but no cigar.

On the Ground & Safe

On the ground & safe Mr. Beaulieu has 100's of hours of training & flying & will get many more. Why is there so many negative feedbacks? THANKS to ALLLLLLL the Rescue people. We all point the finger at each other but should hold back our comments & look at each if we are perfect.