STARKS — A local pilot was uninjured after a plane crash Saturday night in which his small experimental plane crashed into a group of hemlock trees off Industry Road.

The crash, reported at 7:18 p.m. Saturday night, drew first responders from three fire departments as well as the Maine State Police and Maine Warden Service to the scene on Industry Road, which is also Maine State Route 43.

Steve Rackliff, who is also the Starks fire chief, said he bought the plane, an ultralight Phantom, at the Auburn-Lewiston Airport. He has had the plane for about two years but had never flown it before Saturday, he said. A state police dispatcher said Sunday that no information on the crash was immediately available.

“I was on my way back from going around the neighborhood, and the motor just slowed down mid-air,” Rackliff said. He estimates he was about 50 feet up when he crashed into the group of trees.

“It wasn’t a good feeling,” he said. “The biggest thing I was thinking was ‘my wife is going to kill me.’ She didn’t like the idea of me playing around on the thing.”

After crashing into the trees, Rackliff blacked out for a few minutes and was awoken by friends who had witnessed the crash and came running over to him.


“Whenever you get into trouble like that, the best thing is to aim for the biggest and greenest trees because they’ll bend and cushion your fall,” he said. “Well, they did until the plane began to fall out of the trees. I don’t remember hitting the ground.”

Rackliff said he was unsure of the cause of the crash, but that it could have been from bad gas or a plugged fuel line. He said the Federal Aviation Administration was contacted, as is standard in most plane accidents, but that they would not be doing any further investigation.

The plane was heavily damaged, but Rackliff said he thought that some of the parts could be salvaged, and he plans to sell them on Craigslist.

“If someone else wants to attempt this, they can have it,” he said. “I would if my wife would let me, but I think that’s out of the question.”

Firefighters from Anson, Madison and Starks responded to the scene.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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