HARRISON – Two men described as experienced pilots and good friends were killed Saturday when a small vintage airplane crashed in a wooded area off Route 35.

George Fortin, 68, of Naples was killed along with passenger Tony Kalinuk, 73, of Harrison.

Limington Airport officials say the two men were members of the Experimental Aircraft Association, Chapter 141, in Limington.

Fortin’s 1946 Taylorcraft BC-12 single-engine plane left Limington Airport around 9:10 a.m. Saturday for Maple Ridge Airport in Harrison, where he picked up Kalinuk for a scenic flight of the area. When Fortin did not return home as planned, his wife called the Limington airport. The plane had not returned.

“It was a beautiful day and he wanted to fly,” said Judith Fortin. “They liked doing that.”

The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office and Maine Warden Service conducted a search Saturday night near Route 35 in Harrison after picking up a signal from Fortin’s cell phone. The search resumed at 6 a.m. Sunday and the plane was found soon after.

David Wilkie, an aviation safety inspector with the Federal Aviation Administration, said the plane was found nose down, about 10 feet into the woods next to a field. Wilkie said it appears the plane hit a tree and went straight down.

Holly Baker, a spokeswoman for the FAA, said late Sunday it is unclear what caused the plane to crash and that inspectors are investigating.

Fortin was vice president of the local Experimental Aircraft Association. Kalinuk was the group’s technical adviser. The group promotes building aircraft and supports general aviation, said Diana Chase, who managed Limington Airport for several years. She said Fortin loved flying.

“George fit right into our chapter and our little groups of pilots here,” Chase said. “George jumped in with both feet. He was always there when we needed him. He and Tony have been steadfast members.”

Fortin, a retired French teacher from Cohasset High School in Massachusetts, moved to Naples with his wife Judith about six years ago.

Judith Fortin said her husband has been a pilot for about 30 years and had close to 2,000 hours of flying time. She said he was a cautious pilot, who watched the weather carefully and had his plane routinely checked.

“His motto was he wanted to live to fly another day and see his grandchildren grow up,” his wife said. “I keep expecting him to walk through the door. I still can’t believe it. Everyone expected him to live a long life. He lived life with gusto.”

Kalinuk’s wife, June, declined to comment.

Robert Pomerleau, president of the local Experimental Aircraft Association, said Kalinuk was an airplane mechanic who helped other members with projects. He said both men were good pilots and close friends. They recently volunteered at a pancake breakfast fundraiser at Spurwink Farm in Cape Elizabeth.

“They both loved aviation,” Pomerleau said. “They were a big help in working with kids to promote aviation education. The aircraft industry is a tightknit community. This hits home with all of us.”

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

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