FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Portland FSDO-09
NTSB Identification: WPR16FA154
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, August 01, 2016 in The Dalles, OR
Aircraft: SPERLING RICHARD G LANCAIR 360, registration: N528HZ
Injuries: 1 Fatal.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
On August 1, 2016, about 1100 Pacific daylight time, a Lancair 360, N528HZ, was destroyed after it impacted terrain while landing at Columbia Gorge Regional/The Dalles Municipal Airport (DLS), The Dalles, Oregon. The pilot, the sole occupant, was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, and no flight plan was filed. The local flight originated from DLS at about 1030.
Moments before the impact, a witness observed the airplane in a nose-low attitude with the right wing pointed up and the left wing pointed directly towards the ground. A second later, the airplane impacted the terrain. A witness and another person tended to the pilot where they waited for the emergency medical services. The pilot was then transported to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries approximately an hour and a half later.
The airplane was recovered to a secure location for further examination.
Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email firstname.lastname@example.org, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email email@example.com.
In what is believed to be the first fatality at the Columbia Gorge Regional Airport in Dallesport, longtime Hood River pilot Richard Sperling died Monday morning after his plane crashed on landing.
The FAA responded to the crash from Hillsboro, and was on scene until about 9 p.m. Monday, said Rolf Anderson, an airport manager.
Sperling was flying a Lancair 360, a type of home-built plane.
A witness on scene said the plane was approaching to land when a wing appeared to dip and strike the ground. The plane hit the runway and slid into a taxiway that leads to a hangar area. Debris was scattered in a wide swath across the runway and taxiway.
Anderson said, “We happened to have the Coast Guard here traveling through. One of them saw the accident. The Coast Guard group was with Mr. Sperling within 45 seconds from the time the accident happened. They did amazing work. And then the ambulance got here just minutes after that. So he was put on the ambulance and he was taken right over to Lifeflight. I don’t think the response could’ve been any more professional or quicker.”
Both the ambulance and Lifeflight are stationed at the airport.
The taxiway where the crash occurred was closed until about 10 p.m. Monday.
Chuck Covert, also an airport manager, said, “I think this is the first fatality at the airport that I’m aware of, and I hope we never have another one.
"We’ve had a few incidents where people have had accidents, but nothing like this, it’s a shame,” he said.
Anderson called the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the FAA to report the accident. The NTSB investigates accidents of all kinds, and the FAA assists. The NTSB will write the report on the crash, Anderson said.
Covert said Sperling had “been a local pilot for a number of years, that was just his latest airplane venture.
“Interesting guy. It’s just very unfortunate because he just loved aviation.”
He remembered Sperling’s first aircraft was a “powerkite deal. It’s kind of a kite with an engine on it.”
He got his current aircraft a few years ago. FFA records show it was manufactured in 2014 and is classified as an experimental plane.
Covert added, “I remember I loaned him my flatbed trailer to go back to Nebraska to buy it because it wasn’t flyable when he got it.”
He “spent a year rebuilding it to get it to fly. He liked to work on stuff. We have a few kit planes at the airport and I always admire the people who take the time and dedication to do that.”
Covert said Sperling, who was married, had flown the plane “quite a bit.”
Anderson said Sperling “Had one just like it before this one, same model. And maybe another one. He’s flown for a long time.”
Covert said the NTSB and FAA will look at the aircraft and interview witnesses and try to determine the cause of the crash.
And just as with automobiles, if the NTSB starts to notice an issue that repeatedly happens with a type of aircraft, they’ll put out a “directive” on it, or a recall.
Anderson said he believes Lifeflight first started taking Sperling to Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, but diverted to Mid-Columbia Medical Center.
It could not be confirmed by press time Tuesday morning where Sperling was taken.