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Well-known Seabee pilot injured in Curtiss replica crash

June 20, 2010

Jim Poel, leader in the Seabee community and long-time SPA member, is in guarded condition in a Rochester, NY, hospital after the crash of a Glenn Curtiss replica aircraft he was testing on Friday.

Executive Director of the Glenn Curtiss Museum, Trafford Doherty, was quoted in the Star Gazette, “From what I saw yesterday, it’s a miracle that Jim’s alive.  For that, we can be very, very thankful.”

The crash occurred about 3 p.m. Friday near the Penn Yan airport.  Jim was flying the museum’s reproduction of a 1910 Curtiss Albany Flyer, the first aircraft to fly off of a ship.  The aircraft was intended to fly as part of the Navy’s Centennial of naval aviation celebrations in 2011 in San Diego and Pensacola.  In that it would not be ready for those events, the Museum does not expect to rebuild the replica.

The plane, a replica of Curtiss’s Albany Flyer, has a 30-foot wingspan and weighs 1,250 pounds. Its frame is made of bamboo, and it is powered by a 90-horsepower original Curtiss OX5 90-horsepower engine from the museum’s collection.  One news story said observers of Friday’s crash reported a possible engine failure moments after the second take-off of the day.

Jim is a respected leader in the seaplane community nationally and a dear friend of SPA.  We all will keep him in our prayers for a successful recovery and extend our best wishes to his wife and family.  Cards may be sent to Jim at:

Jim Poel, Patient
c/o Strong Memorial Hospital
601 Elmwood Ave
Rochester, NY 14642

Jim Poel, Patient
c/o Strong Memorial Hospital

601 Elmwood Ave
Rochester, NY 14642
8 Comments leave one →
  1. Jim McManus permalink*
    June 21, 2010 9:25 pm

    Thanks to Donn Booth for this Monday update on Jim’s condition:

    “The good news is after last nights surgery they found the location of the internal bleeding and was able to stop it. After over 30, yes 30 units of blood transfused, this is a great sign that his battle may be turning for the better. He still has a long hard road ahead of him, but everyday, our hopes are that he gets stronger. As of today he is in a doctor induced coma to help his body heal. This will remain in effect for about a week.”

  2. Grant Wallace permalink
    June 23, 2010 8:36 pm

    I met jim at Sun-n-Fun this year and spent a half hour or so talking about Curtiss. I’m following the progress on his recovery. Thoughts and prayers for his family and friends.

  3. June 24, 2010 4:55 pm

    Wednesday’s update from Jim’s wife Lovada:

    Hi Everyone,

    You just keep us going with all the good wishes.

    Today was okay. They decided to start backing him off the paralytic today. Big surprise. They weren’t going to do it this soon. Good surprise. It will be replaced with plenty of sedation and pain relievers. So as I said yesterday, the only difference will be he can move. I won’t be having a conversation with him anytime soon. But that’s okay. I talk to him a lot. Some people believe in it, some don’t. Doesn’t matter. They do say he won’t remember any of it. Maybe, maybe not. I’d just rather talk to him than about him. And if they’re so sure he doesn’t hear a word of it, how come they tell him whatever procedure they’re performing? That’s not for me. I’m sitting there. So. . .

    Today was supposed to be a “happy” day. Well, not so much. They took x-rays for an hour which requires turning him. And that’s not so happy for him. But, they gotta do what they gotta do. Don’t really know more than that. They’re just getting him settled down from the last surgery and getting ready for Thursday’s surgery, which is to start repair on him pelvis and maybe even his broken arm. They’re never really sure how far they’ll be able to go.
    Tomorrow his agenda will contain another cleansing of his wound. Doing all possible to prevent infection.

    Those who notice these things will see the time I writing this. There was so much activity in his room I thought I’d take the night off. (I mention this for you kind people worried about me) He was pretty peaceful, resting up from all that’s happened. Of course, the paralytic isn’t entirely out of his system yet. But he’s starting to stir.

    See you tomorrow.


  4. June 26, 2010 2:32 pm

    Here’s the Saturday update from Jim’s wife….

    Morning Everyone,

    First, Jim is doing well. (We have to remember it’s all relative.) They are going to fix his wrist in about an hour.

    I made a mistake in my reporting. A happy one. It seems his broken leg and knee are one in the same. He has a ton of doctors and one was calling it a knee and one was saying leg. It’s actually his leg. It’s a tibia fracture immediately next to his knee. It’s a happy mistake because that means one less surgery. After today there’s only one more to go–that we know of–and that’s to close the belly wound.

    They cleaned and tightened that yesterday. They’ll do that every other day until it’s closed enough to withstand closing for real.

    The real fear now is infection. And there are a ton of other possible’s. But today, he’s doing well.

    The other thing I wanted to mention is this. We are blessed to have so many friends (and family) who care so much for him. While he still has a long, long way to go, unless something unthinkable happens, I’m going to every other day on the updates. I know some of you look first thing in the morning and get a little worried if you haven’t received it. Nothing is wrong–I just slept in!

  5. June 28, 2010 8:11 pm

    Hi Folks,

    Here I am, as promised. Jim is doing well. That is to say he’s doing what’s needed. Exactly what he’s supposed to be doing. I guess the right way to say it is, he’s having the reactions they want to see. When they annoy him he twitches. Sounds bad, actually good.
    He’ll still be out at least another week. If they can close the belly wound, as hoped around Monday (next, not tomorrow) they’ll let him come to consciousness. Then we’ll see what else, if anything, is wrong.
    He’s got his color back, his “numbers” are improving.He’s better every day . So for now, it’s all good.
    Talk to you Wednesday.

  6. Bob Hurd permalink
    July 1, 2010 3:49 pm

    Glad to here that things are improving. I’m sure it will be a long trip back and a pray for a full recovery. I can only imagine the stess and worry for Lovada. Just want her to know that I’m think ing about her and wish her peace and rest. I can see and hear in my mine the memorys of my encounters with Jim at Speculator 10 to 16 years ago and his big smile when ever we talked. He seemed quite interested in my light open cockpit seaplane complerte with my bike on the starboard float. I would like to go on about times we have shared but don’t know how much I can post here. A lot of good times. Bob Hurd Drifter pilot.

  7. July 6, 2010 4:50 pm

    More news as of 7/2 from Jim’s wife Lovada:

    Every day brings a little something. His numbers improved a lot over the night. Tomorrow he goes to surgery to close the belly wound. Maybe a couple of other tweaks. They’ll decide when they get a good look around.

    If he does well he may, MAY come off the ventilator mid or late next week. Yea!!!!!

    I’m sending a link for those who haven’t seen it. As my sister-in-law said, “The better part of June 18th.” It’s the first flights of the Albany Flyer and a short interview with Jim.

    You’ll have to paste and click. (I think)

    Have a good one everyone.



  1. Well-known Seabee pilot injured in Curtiss replica crash (via SPA Blog) « JJBaker's Aviation/ Seaplane Safety

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