A handmade biplane crashed into Lake Wausau shortly before noon today, as the pilot was attempting to land at the Wausau Downtown Airport.
The pilot, Glenn Burt, 60, of Wausau, was the only occupant of the plane, and he was uninjured in the crash. He was picked up by a boater who was in the area, said Lt. Dale Wisnewski of the Marathon County Sheriff is Department.
The airplane is a Sopwith Pup, said John Chmiel, airport manager. It is a single-engine World War I replica designed for one person.
Burt was approaching the Wausau Downtown Airport for a landing when the pilot started "having difficulties with the engine," Chmiel said. Burt declined to speak with the Wausau Daily Herald.
"As airplane accidents go, this was a fender bender," Chmiel said.
Emergency crews were quick to respond to the crash, Chmiel said. The Marathon County Sheriff is Department, the Wausau Fire Department and the Wausau Police Department were all on the scene within a matter of minutes.
After learning that Burt was not injured, the Wausau Fire Department sent a boat out to the plane to make sure that fuel, oil or other pollutants were not seeping into the water, said Paul Czarapata, a battalion chief with the Wausau Fire Department.
"Nothing was leaking from the plane," Czarapata said.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board also were notified of the crash.
Burt is an experienced pilot and the airplane had passed an FAA inspection and flight tests, Chmiel said.
"You can not just build your own airplane and fly it," Chmiel said.
Chmiel did not know the age of the plane.
The plane is being kept in place until it can be inspected or until the NTSB says it can be moved, Czarapata said.
It is possible the plane could fly again, Chmiel said. "Obviously the owner wants it back."