Friday, February 28, 2020

Cessna 170A, N5478C: Accident occurred February 27, 2020 in Baker City, Baker County, Oregon

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.

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Boise, Idaho

Location: Baker City, OR
Accident Number: WPR20LA097
Date & Time: 02/27/2020, 1500 PDT
Registration: N5478C
Aircraft: Cessna 170
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On February 27, 2020, about 1500 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 170, N5478C, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Baker City, Oregon. The private pilot and one passenger were not injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The pilot reported that about 15 minutes into the flight, the engine started to "knock and vibrate," and the oil pressure indication was low. The pilot initiated a precautionary landing to an open field, and during the landing rollout the airplane impacted a small ditch.

A postaccident examination of the airplane revealed substantial damage to the left wing. Pre impact damage was noted to the upper crankcase area near cylinder No. 2, and the engine oil quantity indicated about 6 quarts of oil. The airplane was recovered to a secure location for further examination. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N5478C
Model/Series:170 A 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built:No 
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KBKE, 3373 ft msl
Observation Time: 2253 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 7 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 14°C / -1°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 6 knots / , 30°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.37 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Baker City, OR (BKE)
Destination: Baker City, OR (BKE)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Fire:None 
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None
Latitude, Longitude: 44.730556, -117.838889 (est)

Baker County Sheriff's Office


On February 27, 2020 at approximately 3:27 p.m., Baker County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch was notified of an airplane that was experiencing engine failure and attempting to land. The passenger, Jason Dexter, told dispatchers that the plane had lost engine power and was headed for the straight stretch on Highway 7.

The pilot, Tom Van Diepen, felt a vibration in the engine and turned to perform a forced landing. He landed the plane in a field adjacent to the highway. While taxiing across the field, the plane went into an irrigation ditch. Van Diepen and Dexter were able to exit the plane without assistance. Neither party suffered any injuries.

Oregon State Police, Baker City Fire Department, Bowen Valley Fire, and Baker County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene.

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