Sunday, September 17, 2017

Van's RV-8, N232TB: Accident occurred September 16, 2017 at Nehalem Bay State Airport (3S7), Manzanita, Tillamook County, Oregon

Additional participating entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Portland, Oregon

NTSB Identification: GAA17CA541
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, September 16, 2017 in Manzanita, OR
Aircraft: RUDBERG TODD W VANS ACFT RV8, registration: N232TB

NTSB investigators will use data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator, and will not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

Aircraft on landing, struck two (2) elk and ground looped.

Date: 17-SEP-17
Time: 00:00:00Z
Regis#: N232TB
Aircraft Make: VANS
Aircraft Model: RV8
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)

A bumpy landing on the airstrip at Nehalem Bay State Park led to two casualties: a pair of elk.

“It was a real surprise to see them, I was not sure what might have spooked them but I knew we were going to hit the cow,” said Todd Rudberg. “At first I didn’t even see the bull, but it was all happening very fast.”

Rudberg was piloting a 2003 Vans RV8, single engine, fixed wing plane. An aircraft he decided to build in 2003 as an homage to his father, who first introduced him to flying. He wanted to take the plane out for the day from Washington and decided to invite a friend, Valerie Villacin along for a day in the air to Manzanita and back.

According to Rudberg they had already touched the aircraft’s wheels down to the runway and were going pretty fast when, for reasons still unknown, a pair of Roosevelt Elk ran in front of the plane as it was still going at approximately 50 miles per hour.

“Once I saw her and knew we were going to hit I pinned it and pulled nose-up,” said Rudberg. “The prop struck her first and she hit the rear landing gear, at that point I saw the bull hit my left wing, which spun me into a ground-loop.”

The two elk were killed upon impact, however both pilot and passenger made it through the ordeal unscathed.

“Of course my immediate concern was for my passenger,” Rudberg said. “But once we both figured out we were okay my thoughts went to the plane.”

Perhaps by a stroke of luck, Rudberg decided to insure the aircraft this year for this type of event and according to him the damage looks pretty extensive. Citing visible wreckage to the aircraft, Rudberg figures the engine would need a complete overhaul and the airframe is likely totaled. However, Rudberg mentioned he had not heard back from his insurance company yet about the damages.

Rudberg, who got his pilot’s license in 2001, has put more than 2,000 hours in the air. Building the airplane with his father, they both started the custom project in 2003. After his father passed away in 2006 it became a passion of Rudberg’s to finish the plane.

“I had just re-done a great deal of it this last winter,” said Rudberg. “I had just worked 100 percent of the bugs out of it and got the plane up and running perfectly, I’m not thrilled with what’s happened but we both walked away from it.”

Rudberg said he’s not going to allow this incident dissuade him from getting back into the air but he admitted it may be some time before he finds out what he’s going to fly.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has temporarily closed the airstrip at Nehalem Bay State Park while the incident is under investigation. Numerous law enforcement and state agencies took part in the response including the Oregon State Police, Manzanita Police Department, Nehalem Bay Fire and Rescue as well as Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation from Nehalem Bay State Park. It is reported that a large quantity of elk meat was salvaged from the incident by the responding Fish and Wildlife State Troopers.

On September 16, 2017 OSP responded to a report of a small aircraft collision on the Nehalem Bay State Park airstrip.

Preliminary investigation revealed that at approximately 5:14pm, a crash involving an aircraft occurred on the airstrip at Nehalem Bay State Park.

The involved pilot was identified as Todd William Rudberg, age 49, from Shoreline, Washington. 

There was one additional passenger in the plane identified as Valerie Anne Villacin, age 43, from Seattle, Washington.

The aircraft was a 2003 Vans Aircraft Model RV8, single engine, fixed wing plane belonging to Mr. Rudberg. 

The crash occurred when Mr. Rudberg attempted to land the plane. He had fully touched down on the airstrip and was slowing down when an elk ran in front of the plane. He attempted to speed up and relaunch the plane in order to fly over the elk without hitting it. The propeller and right side landing gear struck the elk and killed it. Another elk ran in front of the plane and was struck by the left wing. The second elk was also killed. The plane spun around and came to a stop on the airstrip. 

The plane was totaled as a result of the crash and none of the occupants were injured. 

The FAA has temporarily closed the Nehalem Bay State Park Airstrip and will be conducting an investigation of the incident.

Troopers from the Oregon State Police,  Tillamook Worksite responded and investigated the incident.

Assisting the Oregon State Police were Nehalem Bay Fire and Rescue, the Manzanita Department of Public Safety, and employees of Nehalem Bay State Park. 

A large quantity of elk meat was salvaged by the responding Fish and Wildlife troopers.

Story and photo gallery  ➤

Two people in a small airplane emerged from a freak accident Saturday evening unscathed -- after two elk ran into their plane just as it was landing on an Oregon Coast airstrip.

Pilot Todd Rudberg, 49, had just touched down at the Nehalem Bay State Park airstrip on the southern edge of Manzanita at 5:14 p.m. Saturday.

That's when an elk suddenly ran in front of the plane, Oregon State Police said. Rudberg tried to speed up and relaunch the plane in an attempt to fly over it, but the plane’s landing gear and propeller ended up striking the elk. The elk was killed.

An instant later, a second elk ran in front of the plane and was struck by the left wing, police said. That second elk also died.

The plane spun to a stop on the airstrip. It was totaled, police said.

But Rudberg and passenger Valerie Villacin were uninjured, according to police. Rudberg is from Shoreline, Wash. Villacin, 43, is from Seattle. Rudberg owns the plane, which is a 2003 Vans Aircraft Model RV8, single engine, fixed wing model.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating, and has closed the airstrip.

According to a 26-year study of animal strikes by U.S. aircraft, birds accounted for 95 percent of animal strikes. Land mammals -- including dogs, cats, horses and skunks -- accounted for 1.6 percent. More than 1,100 deer were struck by aircraft during the study period, from 1990-2015.

Eleven elk were struck, causing $7.6 million in damage, the study found.

Fish and Wildlife troopers were able to salvage a large quantity of elk meat from Saturday's crash, police said. The meat was donated to charity.

Story, photo gallery and comments ➤

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