A small vintage airplane in which two men died last year ran out of fuel before it crashed, federal investigators say.

The federal report also says the 68-year-old pilot should not have been flying because his application for a medical certificate had been denied by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The 1946 Taylorcraft BC12-D crashed on Aug. 14, 2010, in Harrison, killing the pilot, George Fortin of Naples, and his passenger, Tony Kalinuk, 73, of Harrison. The men were members of the Experimental Aircraft Association, Chapter 141, in Limington.

The National Transportation Safety Board has ruled that the crash was caused by an inadequate fuel supply. “Witnesses reported hearing a sputtering engine followed by silence,” the report says.

The airplane hit the tops of trees, then crashed nose-down into the ground, the report says.

Investigators recovered just four ounces of fuel from the plane, even though the tank and the fuel supply system had not been compromised, the report says. An investigation of the flight controls, engine and engine systems, and the fuel quantity indicator revealed no malfunctions.

The report blamed the crash on the pilot’s improper fuel management, which caused the loss of engine power.

The mechanic who did the last inspection of the plane saw Fortin earlier that day, bringing it out of a hangar at Limington Airport, and told him the fuel indicator showed little fuel in the plane. The pilot’s response seemed to indicate that he thought the fuel gauge didn’t work properly and that he knew how much fuel he had, the report says.

Fortin took off at 8:30 a.m. and flew to Maple Ridge Airport in Harrison, where he picked up his passenger for a two-hour flight.

Witnesses reported hearing a loud noise followed by silence, and the plane disappeared. The plane was reported overdue at 8 p.m., and the wreckage was found at 6 the next morning.

The report says Fortin held a private pilot certificate for single-engine aircraft last issued in September 1982. His application for a third-class medical certificate on Aug. 19, 2008, was denied by the FAA, but the report gives no details.

The report does not suggest that any medical condition contributed to the crash.

Kalinuk did have a valid pilot’s license and medical certificate, the report says.

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.

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

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