Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Portland, Oregon
Aircraft landed short of Runway 31.
Aircraft Make: ZENITH
Aircraft Model: 601XL
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: MINOR
Aircraft Missing: No
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
City: THE DALLES
A small plane carrying a couple from The Dalles landed short of the runway at a local airfield Friday afternoon and was severely damaged after hitting rocks, but neither passenger sustained more than minor injuries.
“They were very lucky, this plane did extremely well protecting the occupants -- but it’s probably totaled,” said Rolf Anderson, manager of the Columbia Gorge Regional Airport in Dallesport.
He said the Zenith 601, an experimental aircraft built by the pilot, has been moved into a hangar to accommodate an investigation by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board).
Anderson said the agencies would finalize a report about the incident in about a month that determines the cause of the crash, and then the plane will be released to its owners.
The accident happened a few minutes before 5 p.m. on March 31. Anderson said the couple, who he declined to name, were attempting to make a landing but didn’t make it to the runway.
He estimates the speed of the plane was about 50 miles per hour when it came down on grass and rocks.
He said the FAA and NTSB investigation will determine if something went wrong with the aircraft, or if the wreck occurred because of pilot error.
One runway was shut down while the Dallesport Fire Department and Mid-Columbia Fire & Rescue made sure no flames erupted and provided care to the pilot and his wife.
MCF&R transported the pair via ambulance to Mid-Columbia Medical Center for an examination and treatment of minor injuries, according to Anderson.
“He had some back pain and they both had some bruises but I think they were okay other than that,” he said.
The runway nearest the crash site was shut down while emergency responders worked, but the other runway remained open and air traffic was not impeded, said Anderson.
The damaged plane was moved into a hangar Saturday and the second runway reopened for use.