Wind gust blows plane off runway at G’wood airport |

Wind gust blows plane off runway at G’wood airport

Heather McGregor

A single-engine airplane carrying an Aspen man was blown off the runway at Glenwood Springs Municipal Airport by a gust of wind at about 4 p.m. Sunday.

No one was injured.

“We were landing downwind and a gust caught us sideways,” said pilot Mike Butterfield of Yakima, Wash. “I tried to use power to get out of it, but it didn’t work.”

The plane, a newly restored 1953 Piper Cub, veered off the runway and ran into a low embankment and some sagebrush. The impact crumpled the right wing and right landing gear and bent both propeller tips forward.

Butterfield and passenger Robert Rubey of Aspen, the plane’s owner, walked away from the mishap and refused offers of help from a Glenwood Springs Department of Emergency Services crew.

“I’m just glad I didn’t get hurt,” said Rubey, who was obviously a bit shaken from the experience. A friend helped him unload his luggage and took him home to Aspen.

“I’ve had hundreds of landings and takeoffs in these planes, but I’ve never had one end like this,” Butterfield said. He expects that the Federal Aviation Administration will rule the mishap as “failure to maintain directional control,” and said he’ll have some points taken off his pilot’s license.

Cardiff resident Dave Force towed the damaged plane over to his work yard, and Butterfield, dressed in a white jumpsuit, spent Sunday evening dismantling the plane.

The Piper Cub had just been restored by Cub Crafters Inc. of Yakima, Butterfield’s employer, and had 70 hours of flying time before Sunday’s incident. Butterfield and Rubey had flown it in from Yakima.

The plane is a super-light craft, weighing just 1,200 pounds. It has a steel fuselage and aluminum wing frame, but the exterior shell of the plane is woven Dacron fabric no heavier than a windbreaker jacket. The fabric has a heavy military-green coating that makes it waterproof and protects the fabric from ultraviolet rays.

Built as a military observation plane, the high-winged plane has just two seats, one in front of the other, and big plexiglass windows.

It was fully restored as a military plane, with bull’s-eyes on the wings and fuselage.

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