CHINA — An unusual kind of aircraft crashed into China Lake Saturday night, as the vehicle apparently lost power.

The crash occurred around 7 p.m., and apparently involved a father and son. Maine State Police Trooper James Moore said the vehicle was originally called in as a person parasailing who crashed. Parasailing is a recreational activity where a person in a parachute is towed behind some kind of vehicle. However, he said it was a two-seat vehicle with a 100-horsepower engine, rubber tires, and a parachute-like apparatus above it. It requires a pilot license to operate, but is smaller than an ultralight plane. The vehicle was owned by China firefighter William Rancourt, 66, who does have a pilot’s license. However, Moore, who was at the scene of the crash, said Rancourt indicated he didn’t have insurance on the vehicle. Moore said he was told that insurance on these types of planes is so expensive, a person could afford a better plane for the same cost. Since Rancourt did not have insurance, Moore said the plane was probably a total loss.

Neither Rancourt nor his son, Steven, were hurt, according to Moore as well as a neighbor who did not see the crash, but saw the rescue efforts. Mary McFarland, who lives on Fire Road 29 on China Lake, said she and her family didn’t actually see the crash, but saw four boats, game wardens and police out in to rescue the Rancourts. She said a game warden came to their door and asked to borrow a kayak to go out to the scene.

“We couldn’t see anything,” McFarland said.

She said from start to finish, everything lasted about two hours.

Moore said no one had to go to the hospital, and the lake was still relatively warm while they were in the water. This type of aircraft, at top speed, can only go 30 miles per hour. Moore said it seems the engine just lost power as they were making a turn and the Rancourts weren’t able to accelerate or gain elevation. While there likely wasn’t much damage to the aircraft because of their speed, Moore said the aircraft wasn’t removed from the water until the next morning, which is why it’s probably a total loss.


Maine State Police Spokesman Steve McCausland said he did not have any information on the crash.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

Twitter: @colinoellis

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