Man crashes home-built plane, lives

Pilot James Lee Dittrick crashed his home-built airplane into power lines on Glade Park after problems at takeoff Tuesday morning. The 74-year-old pilot walked away from the crash with only a scratch on his face.

A Glade Park man walked away from a plane crash near his home Tuesday morning with only a scrape on his nose, but his small plane didn’t fare as well.

James Lee Dittrick, 74, took off from a small landing strip on his property in a plane that wasn’t registered because it was intended for personal use, according to the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department. Just moments after takeoff, he caught some rough wind, said Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Heather Benjamin. As he tried to turn the plane around to return home, it tangled in power lines and crashed in a field near 15801 Pinyon Park Lane at 10:40 a.m. — about 120 yards from the runway where he took off.

The plane landed on its right side and both wings came off in the crash. A utility pole tipped over onto the wreckage, tightly bowing the two twisted lines down toward the plane.

As several horses in the sage-dotted field looked on, employees of Grand Valley Power separated the power lines from the downed pole less than an hour after the crash Tuesday morning. Eleven customers experienced a power outage, but by 2:15 p.m. 10 of them had their power restored, with the eleventh expected to follow soon thereafter, according to the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department.

Dittrick refused medical treatment at the scene, Benjamin said, and the scratch on his nose was caused by his sunglasses. He drove an ATV to his residence about an hour after the crash, then returned to the scene several minutes later.

The Mesa County Sheriff’s Department notified the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board of the crash, though neither agency reported it would send representatives to investigate, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

In addition to the Sheriff’s Department, the Glade Park Volunteer Fire Department and Mesa County Fire Department responded to the scene.


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