New London, Sutton, and Wilmot Fire Departments responded to the scene of an experimental plane, that crashed into the 16th fairway of Lake Sunapee Country Club in New London. The operator, who was a good friend of the Fire Department, was killed on impact. 07-02-05

Plane crash

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Glider pilots pay tribute to a man who loved to fly

Monitor staff

July 06. 2005 8:00AM

NEW LONDON - In October, the Soaring Society of America, which promotes the sport of flying non-motorized glider planes, will name the top of Mount Washington as the 14th landmark soaring location in the country. Allan MacNicol, who introduced hundreds of fellow gliders to the wave of air rolling off the mountain peak that is to suitable for the sport, won't be there to witness it.

MacNicol, 75, died this weekend when a home-built airplane he was flying crashed into the 16th fairway of the golf course at the Lake Sunapee Country Club. No further information about the accident was available yesterday from the Federal Aviation Administration, and investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board did not return messages in time for publication.

In the late 1960s, MacNicol ran a "wave camp" at Mount Washington for glider or sail plane pilots who wanted to test the wind there. More recently, he sat on a committee to get the site listed as a landmark and continued to be an ambassador to the sport.

"A lot (of the dedication) had to do with Allan's wave camps and flying," said Bill Batesole, a fellow flight instructor with the New England Soaring Association, which flies out of Springfield, Vt. "He's been working very closely on getting this done."

Harold Nelson of New London, who met MacNicol at gliding events in 1963 and has been friends with him since, said MacNicol was experienced behind the yoke.

"He was an excellent pilot,"he said. "He'd flown all sorts of things."

MacNicol flew A-26 bombers in the Air Force, Nelson said. He went on to work for Honeywell, a high-tech manufacturing company, in Massachusetts and later owned a ball slide manufacturing company with friend and pilot Henry Gibbs. In his free time, he kept up his sky-bound hobby. Gibbs said he and MacNicol owned single-engine planes together, first a Cessna 172 and then a Cessna 180.

In 1990, when MacNicol was still living in Massachusetts, he and Nelson decided to try their hand at building a plane themselves, Nelson said. They bought a kit for a Kitfox, a single-engine monoplane, or one-winged plane. The Kitfox is categorized as an experimental plane because it is not factory-built but is a common kit model.

In 2000 MacNicol moved to New London and bought a home alongside the Eagle's Nest airstrip. He kept the Kitfox in a hangar on the property. About a year later, heavy snow built up on the hangar's roof and caused it to collapse. The plane was crushed.

Nelson said he and MacNicol were in the process of piecing together a new plane, starting with the only piece of the Kitfox they salvaged - the wings.

About a month ago, MacNicol purchased another, fully-constructed Kitfox. That was the plane he crashed Saturday. According to an FAA representative, neither MacNicol nor the plane have ever before been cited for FAA violations.

Batesole said MacNicol was a young 75 years old and a solid pilot.

"His awareness and understanding (of flying) was very, very good," he said. "That's why this accident was such a surprise and such a shock, because of his history of safe flying."

MacNicol's family could not be reached for comment yesterday. Nelson said he has three adult children.

Nelson said MacNicol was also a steam car hobbyist and loved antique cars. He owned a 1926 Jordan Playboy. The two friends often spent time together outside of the cockpit, and Nelson said he most admired him for his ability to see the good in people. Both were volunteers for the local Meals-on-Wheels program. While Nelson and other volunteers would run the delivery route once every two weeks, MacNicol did it every week.

"In some respects, he's not too good because it takes him about twice as long," Nelson said. "He spends a lot of time talking with everybody on the route. They're all his friends, and he's pretty much that way with everyone."

Monitor staff