EAGLE LAKE, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- A game warden pilot escaped injury Wednesday after his aircraft broke through thin ice after landing on Eagle Lake.

According to Corporal John MacDonald with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, just after 11:00 Wednesday morning, Game Warden Pilot Jeff Spencer, based out of Eagle Lake, was returning from a bear telemetry flight in his assigned Cessna 185 aircraft equipped with skis. He says, due to strong winds this morning, Spencer chose to alter his normal landing pattern slightly onto Eagle Lake.

MacDonald says, after landing, Pilot Spencer taxi'ed across the ice toward the Warden Service Plane Base on the west shore of Eagle Lake. While taxing, Pilot Spencer crossed an area of thin ice and the aircraft broke through. Spencer was able to exit the aircraft without injury. The aircraft became partially submerged but was suspended by its wings and tail.

He says, just two days prior on December 18th, several test holes were drilled in various locations near the plane base and the ice was determined safe for aircraft operations. Several takeoffs and landings at this location had been made by Pilot Spencer since Monday the 18th. He says the aircraft is a 1979 Cessna 185 and is one of four aircraft operated by the Maine Warden Service. Logistics for removing the aircraft are ongoing. The full extent of damage to the aircraft is unknown at this time.

MacDonald says, the Eagle Lake Plane Base has been in operation since 1949 and ski equipped aircraft have been used by the Warden Service since the 1940’s for biological, search and rescue and law enforcement operations. We feel very fortunate this evening that Warden Pilot Jeff Spencer escaped this incident without injury.