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Published: Sunday, 10/8/2006

Point Place man crashes small aircraft into river

A Point Place man who was flying a small experimental aircraft yesterday afternoon crashed into the Ottawa River when he flew too close to the surface.

Joe Cothern, of 5162 Ottawa River Road, was piloting the aircraft near his waterfront home when it crashed. He was not injured.

Mr. Cothern said he was flying for the first time yesterday a "gyrocopter" aircraft he built himself.

The crash occurred at 2 p.m. on the river near the intersection of Engel Boulevard and Shoreland Avenue.

"It was totally pilot error," Mr. Cothern said. "I was upside-down in the water and my seat buckle was fastened."

Witnesses said Mr. Cothern dipped to one side and flipped over on the water when a propeller struck the water surface. Mr. Cothern waded away from the submerged wreckage and was picked up by a boater.

"He was doing a touch and go on the surface and it looked like he got too close," said George Sommerfield, who saw the crash from the shore.

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