A demonstration flight commemorating the centennial of the Navy acquiring its first aircraft has been canceled after a reproduction of the 1911 seaplane crashed shortly after taking off from one of New York's Finger Lakes during a practice run, organizers said Friday.
The Steuben County Sheriff's Office said the reproduction Curtiss A-1 Triad took off from Keuka Lake around 7:35 p.m. Thursday and crashed back onto the water soon after outside Hammondsport, 55 miles southeast of Rochester.
The pilot, 58-year-old Kevin House of Bath, wasn't hurt, deputies said. The damaged plane was towed to shore.
The plane was built at Hammondsport's Glenn H. Curtiss Museum.
Museum Director Trafford Doherty said the weather was clear and calm during a practice flight in preparation for Saturday's 100th anniversary of the Navy acquiring the original seaplane.
House, a retired airline pilot, was making his first flight in the plane and had been in the air for only a few seconds before it crashed, Doherty said.
"These things are tricky to fly," he told The Associated Press. "Basically, something went wrong. He over-controlled and it came back down on the water at a bad angle."
He described the plane's construction as "all wires and bamboo and light wood."
Doherty said the plane was too damaged to perform Saturday's scheduled demonstration flight marking the anniversary. Plans had called for the plane to take off from the waters off Champlin Beach, near the spot where Navy officials got their first look at the Triad in flight 100 years ago this week.
The sheriff's office and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the cause of the crash.
Volunteers at the museum completed the reproduction plane in 2004.
The museum is named for the Hammondsport-born Curtiss, an early aviation pioneer whose factories in Buffalo and elsewhere produced thousands of planes for the U.S. military during World War I and afterward.