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Experimental Glider Crashes; Pilot Hurt

From United Press International

An experimental motorized glider crashed in Lancaster shortly after takeoff Saturday and burst into flames, critically injuring the pilot, authorities said.

The craft lost power seconds after lifting off at Gen. William J. Fox Airfield about 10:20 a.m. and the pilot tried to glide back to the runway, Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Ray Valasek said.

The pilot, James Lewis, 48, made a U-turn and headed for the runway, Valasek said. As the glider neared the west end of the runway, one wing dipped and hit a dirt embankment, rupturing the fuel tank and flinging the plane to the ground.

Lewis of Granada Hills was sprayed with burning gasoline as a fireball enveloped the glider, Valasek said. Covered in flames, Lewis ran 40 feet from the wreckage before he collapsed on the runway.

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Lewis was airlifted to the burn center at Sherman Oaks Community Hospital in critical condition.


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