NORRIDGEWOCK – The pilot of a plane that crashed at the Central Maine Regional Airport escaped injury Tuesday morning, although there was some damage to the plane he was flying.

“Something went wrong with the tail wheel and we’re not exactly sure what, but luckily my training kicked in and I was able to get out of the plane,” said Robert Lewandowski, 44, of Winthrop.

Lewandowski said he arrived at the airport shortly after 9 a.m. Tuesday and had been flying for about 40 minutes when he decided to do some practice landings. He had made eight successfully and was about to complete a ninth when, he said, he noticed something was wrong.

Lewandowski, who is a licensed pilot, was flying a 1946 Aeronca Champion 7AC that belongs to Kenneth Morgan, the owner of the Morgan Aviation flight school in Norridgewock.

“I decided to call it a day and was about to touch down when the tail wheel gave a significant and violent shimmy,” he said.

Lewandowski said he was flying about 38 mph when he noticed the tail wheel, a smaller wheel at the back of the plane, moving left to right and up and down. He said he wasn’t sure what might have caused it but that he was able to slow down and land.

Once on the ground, he brought the speed down to about 5 mph, he said.

“It could have been any number of things. The rudder cable could have thrown it off or the wind,” he said.

He said that the plane veered off into a snowbank, where it slowly flipped over.

Morning Sentinel Staff Writer Rachel Ohm can be contacted at 612-2368 or at:

rohm@mainetoday.com