Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Piper PA-28-236 Dakota, N8353T: Accident occurred September 28, 2019 in Modesto, Stanislaus County, California

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Long Beach

Aircraft crashed on the highway and caught fire.

Positive Dynamic Aviation

Date: 28-SEP-19
Time: 02:45:00Z
Regis#: N8353T
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA28
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: EN ROUTE (ENR)
Operation: 91

SANTA CRUZ — A pilot who walked away after crash-landing a plane Friday on a Modesto highway has been identified as Dirk Kanngiesser, a 59-year-old resident of Santa Cruz.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman, the single-engine aircraft was flying Friday night from Truckee to San Martin when its pilot reported a “rough-running” engine and attempted to divert to the Modesto airport.

The plane, a Piper PA28, crash landed on Highway 99 in Modesto and caught fire, according to FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer. Local authorities said the crash was reported at 7:48 p.m. Friday.

The pilot walked away from the crash with minor injuries, according to the California Highway Patrol. No other injuries were reported. All lanes of southbound Highway 99 were temporarily blocked by the burning wreckage. 

Kanngiesser identified himself as the pilot in a Facebook post Sunday, apologizing to Modesto residents for the “scare.”

Kanngiesser said he tried to glide to the Modesto airport after his plane lost power. But the airport was too far away.

“The highway was the only other option, keeping in mind, that we pilots in these situations focus on not hurting anyone else. This was accomplished,” Kanngiesser said.

“I am so glad that no one got hurt on 99,” he added. “Myself I was just able to get out before the plane exploded. Sorry to all of you who got caught in the freeway backup.”

Kanngiesser could not be reached for additional comment Monday. But he shared new details about the fiery crash in an interview with news channel KSBW 8 — saying the plane crashed “very hard,” ending up on fire and upside down on the highway.

“That it happened the way it happened was purely a miracle,” he said in the interview. “The odds were absolutely against me.”

Kanngiesser, who reportedly has been flying planes for more than two decades, is the CEO and co-founder of a Silicon Valley blockchain startup.

According to his LinkedIn page, Kanngiesser has volunteered as a pilot with Angel Flight West since 2014. The nonprofit arranges free flights for people with serious but non-emergency medical conditions and other “compelling needs,” its website states.

Story and video ➤


Anonymous said...

Could not have ended better given the situation.

Anonymous said...

Agree! Not only did a great job handling the “engine out” but did great public relations (considering the situation) for GA as well! BZ.

Anonymous said...

Did ATC direct him to the closest AP? Flight path suggests KTCY would have close enough to have made the difference.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes a sudden rough running engine is caused by the changed timing of a bad or "slipped" magneto. If so, how many pilots would then attempt to switch from both to either single magneto so to seek a smoother running engine again?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else find it sort of amazing that the aluminum structure seemingly melted, but the three tires are still apparently "round" on their wheels- and the plane was upside down burning after the accident?

Anonymous said...

@Anon from 10/4 - look at the smoke blowing away from the tires. Fires and what they choose to consume as fuel are as unpredictable as how a tornado can destroy one home then leave the home next door practically untouched.

Oops said...

He forgot to turn on the carb heat. Guarantee you! 15,000 down to close to sea level in the evening...he froze up.

Anonymous said...

Oops... I have more than 500 hours in a Dakota and it is highly unlikely to be carb ice related. It could be lots of other things - stuck valve, broken magneto drive shaft (Dakota's have a single drive, dual mag system), but I'd be very surprised if it is carb related on this model of aircraft.