World War I replica plane crashes in Dexter

A small World War I-era replica plane crashed at the Dexter Municipal Airport late Wednesday morning after a breeze lifted the taxiing plane into the air with the pilot strapped inside.

The pilot, Rodney Wright of East Corinth, who had spent three years building the experimental aircraft, suffered a serious head injury and was brought to Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, according to Chief Matt Connor of the Dexter Fire Department.

Wright was taxiing the plane with an open cockpit on a grass runway at the airport when the breeze lifted the plane, which has two sets of wings, into the air. The plane crashed down, destroying its landing gear, then ended up upside down, said Roger Nelson, the airport’s manager. Wright spent time upside down as he was strapped into the cockpit with a shoulder harness.

The airport is closed until further notice, and Maine Department of Environmental Protection staffers were on the scene Wednesday afternoon checking for fuel leaks. The FAA will conduct an investigation because the crash caused an injury.

Wednesday’s crash was the third in 20 years at the Dexter airport, according to Connor.

No charges are expected to be filed in connection with the crash.