Blunt force trauma killed pilot whose plane crashed

Jan. 7, 2010


Jan. 7--GREENBUSH, Maine -- The veteran pilot killed Monday when his small plane crashed in an Olamon Island stream died of multiple blunt force injuries, the state medical examiner's office said.

James "Jim" Beaton, 78, of Newtown, Wales, was ferrying the Cessna 172 Skyhawk to a Russian flight school when the crash occurred shortly after takeoff from Bangor International Airport.

"At least we know he did not suffer a lingering death by drowning and there was no pain," said Geoff Rosenbloom, who was Beaton's boss and longtime friend, in an e-mail Wednesday from Scotland.

Beaton took off Monday morning on the first leg of the trip to a Russian flight school, and 25 minutes after takeoff decided to turn around because his plane was icing.

He contacted BIA's tower to say he was going to attempt an emergency landing at Old Town's DeWitt Field, but he crashed 10 miles short of the small airfield in a small stream that cuts through the 7-acre Penobscot River island.

The plane's emergency transponder began to send a signal around 11 a.m. and his body was recovered from the half-submerged craft on Monday evening and sent to Augusta.

Beaton's body "has been released today to a local funeral home," said Rosenbloom, who learned to fly with Beaton in Scotland more than five decades ago. "We expect it will be flown back to [the United Kingdom] for a funeral maybe sometime later next week."

Beaton is survived by his wife, Maureen, and a daughter and granddaughter, who live in France.

Rosenbloom owns Computaplane, a Glasgow, Scotland-based company where Beaton worked that transports planes all over the world.

"My memories will remain of a quiet, kind and gentle man, an exceptional pilot, a great teller of stories of his many life experiences, and a good friend for over 50 years," Rosenbloom said.

Beaton and Rosenbloom learned to fly together in 1955 at an airport in Renfrew, Scotland, and Beaton spent many years in Glasgow running a successful flight school, which he later sold, his friend said.

"Many years later he started flying for us and had completed more than 75 trans-Atlantic deliveries and several others to India, Africa and the Middle East," Rosenbloom said. "He had been flying for more than 55 years, still held a 1st class medical [license] and amassed more than 15,000 flying hours."

Beaton had been hired by Don Ratliff, owner of American King Air Services in Mount Pleasant, S.C., to deliver the four-seat Cessna to St. Petersburg University's flight school. He picked up the plane in Bangor and was heading to Goose Bay in Newfoundland, when he decided to turn around and his aircraft went down.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the fatal crash.

[email protected]