LITCHFIELD — Two people were killed when a twin-engine cargo plane crashed in Litchfield Tuesday evening during a training flight, officials said.

The victims, whose names had not been released Wednesday, were the only people on the plane, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The plane, a Beechcraft turboprop, was eastbound with an instructor and a newly hired pilot on board when it crashed at 5:41 p.m. Tuesday, said Ralph Hicks, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, at a news briefing near the scene Wednesday afternoon.

It was immediately obvious when the Gardiner Ambulance Service arrived at the scene that there were no survivors, Gardiner fire Chief Rick Sieberg said Wednesday.

Debris was strewn over an area about 200 yards long by 50 yards wide, indicating a “high-energy impact,” Hicks said.

“I can’t say how fast they were going,” he said, “We don’t have all that yet.”


He said weather was not a factor.

NTSB investigators plan to be at the crash scene throughout the week, but Oak Hill Road, which was scattered with debris and had been closed since Tuesday night, was expected to reopen Wednesday night.

The crash took place in a heavily wooded area at Danforth Hill. Officials from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection are assessing and cleaning up a large fuel spill that posed health risks for responders. It was the first plane crash in the Kennebec County town of about 3,600 people since the National Transportation Safety Board began tracking crashes in 1962.

Officials block Oak Hill Road in Litchfield on Wednesday as emergency workers and representatives of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection respond to the site of a plane crash Tuesday that killed the two people aboard the Beechcraft turboprop. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Spokespeople for the FAA and Maine State Police on Tuesday referred all questions about the crash to the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Ken Mason said Tuesday night his office would release no information.

“As we continue our work on the incident in Litchfield, please be patient with our response time for nonemergency calls for service through out the county,” Mason wrote in a statement posted Wednesday on Facebook. “This scene is very large and will take 2 to 3 days to mitigate the issue properly. Please keep the families of the two souls lost in your thoughts.”



The twin-engine Beechcraft C-99, operated by Wiggins Airways, took off at 5:09 p.m. from the Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport, 21 minutes earlier than its scheduled departure. New Hampshire-based Wiggins Airways is an all-cargo airline that operates in 12 states and provides feeder services for FedEx, UPS and other carriers, according to its website.The plane was manufactured in 1982 and registered through September 2027.

The plane traveled southwest out of Auburn before looping back over Sebago Lake and heading northeast toward Wales. The plane was last recorded flying 214 mph at an altitude of 2,975 feet.

It was in the air for 31 minutes before going down in Litchfield at 5:41 p.m., according to FlightAware, a flight data tracker. It crashed about 1 1/2 miles from the two turf runways at the privately owned Wales Airport-ME6 on Ridge Road, also known as O’Connell’s Field.

Hicks of the NTSB said there was no indication the crew had planned to land at that airfield.

A spokesperson for Wiggins Airways declined to talk about the crash, what the plane was carrying and how often the company’s planes travel this route. Officials at the Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport also declined to comment. The owners of the Wales airstrip could not be reached.

Hicks said the plane was equipped with avionics that send out information on its location. Some of that information goes to AirNav, a website that publishes aeronautical and airport information released by the FAA.


“It’s a general indication of what the plane was doing,” he said. “We will get more refined data later.”


People at the Meadows Golf Course reported hearing a crash at 5:44 p.m. Tuesday. Officials from the Gardiner, Monmouth and Litchfield fire departments searched for the wreckage near Oak Hill Road, with help from Maine State Police and the sheriff’s office.

Dave Walko, who lives near the crash site and is a former Air Force officer, said he had just come back from his daily walk and was in the yard when he saw the plane pass overhead.

“It was kind of low, but I didn’t think anything of it,” he said. “There was no loud noises or … anything like that. The second time around, it comes through again trying to circle, and I do believe it was looking for a landing space.

“But then I heard a massive bang and I was like, ‘What the hell?’ ” he said.


At first, Walko thought he’d heard explosives being set off, but after seeing rescue crews rushing to the scene, he feared the worst.

“I told my wife, ‘You know this is kind of uncommon for that plane to be flying that low with that twin engine,’ but then twin engines fly here all the time, so I didn’t presume anything,” he said. “Who would expect that? It’s horrible.”

Several other residents said they saw the plane or heard the crash. Nine-year-old Arlo Grim was out in the yard playing soccer at the time.

“And then there’s like – I heard a really low-flying plane,” Grim said. “I looked up and I thought it was like, I don’t know, like it was almost sideways. I thought it was going to come down, like, do a loop around our house … and like, go away. It just kept going down, and I heard a boom.”

An adult who was with Grim Wednesday and did not provide his name said residents arrived at the scene before first responders and saw “debris in the road and steam coming out of the woods.”

The twin-engine Beechcraft C-99 turboprop that crashed Tuesday in Litchfield is seen in April 2023 at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in New Hampshire. Two crew members were killed. The plane was operated by Wiggins Airways, a cargo air carrier. Courtesy of Alex H/MHTPlanes



Local and federal officials are investigating the crash scene.

David Madore, deputy commissioner of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, said between 150 and 200 gallons of jet fuel might have been spilled in the woods on impact.

“DEP will assess the jet fuel spill when we get clearance from the FAA,” Madore said. “Once assessed, we will be able to implement a cleanup plan to minimize long-term impact.”

Jet fuel is like kerosene, according to Madore. It can damage soil, pollute water and is highly flammable and can easily spark a forest fire. Madore said the fuel is causing respiratory concerns for searchers working in the area.

“The DEP will be providing some air monitoring while the medical examiner and FAA are surveying the site and recovery efforts,” Madore said.

Officials from the state agency were at the scene Wednesday morning, as were members of the Waterville Fire Department, the agency designated to respond to hazardous materials spills in the area. Members of the Augusta Fire Department were also at the scene.


The National Transportation Safety Board is expected to determine the probable cause of the accident, as it does in most plane crashes. An initial report is expected in a week to 10 days.

The debris will be collected and taken to a facility in Massachusetts that specializes in aircraft salvage.

Hicks said the investigation could take 12 to 18 months.

Photographer Joe Phelan of the Kennebec Journal contributed to this report.


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