Thursday, December 03, 2020

Bellanca 17-30A Viking, N28067: Accident occurred December 02, 2020 in Arden Hills, Ramsey County, Minnesota

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; Minneapolis, Minnesota

Location: Arden Hills, MN 
Accident Number: CEN21LA073
Date & Time: December 2, 2020, 21:15 Local 
Registration: N28067
Aircraft: Bellanca 17-30A 
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On December 2, 2020, about 2115 central standard time, a Bellanca 17-30A, N28067, was substantially damage when it was involved in an accident near Arden Hills, Minnesota. The pilot and passenger and an occupant of the motor vehicle were not injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The pilot said this was to be a night sightseeing flight around the city. About 10 minutes after takeoff, he heard a loud “bang” and the engine began to vibrate. Shortly thereafter, the engine lost power completely. The pilot made a gear-down forced landing on an Interstate highway. During the landing roll, the airplane struck a vehicle and highway divider. Post-accident examination revealed both wings were bent. A large hole was noted on the top of the engine crankcase, and the numbers 5 and 6 connecting rods were missing.

The wreckage was recovered, and the engine was examined. When the oil pan was removed, a large amount of metal debris was noted. The oil filter also contained metal chips and filings. These pieces will be retained for further examination and tests.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Bellanca
Registration: N28067
Model/Series: 17-30A 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC
Condition of Light: Night
Observation Facility, Elevation:
Observation Time:
Distance from Accident Site: 
Temperature/Dew Point: -1.1°C /-6.7°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: / ,
Lowest Ceiling: None / 2200 ft AGL
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.1 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Blaine, MN (KANE)
Destination: Arden Hills, MN

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 None 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries:
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None 
Latitude, Longitude: 45.048053,-93.187572 (est)

The Maple Grove woman whose SUV was hit by a plane that made an emergency landing on Interstate 35W on Wednesday is now thanking the pilot for his kindness in the moments that followed.

Brittany Yurik, a mother of two, said she was driving home from a late-shift job around 9:30 p.m. when the plane started to go down behind her.

Minnesota State Patrol said the unexpected landing happened on northbound I-35W near I-694 in Arden Hills. The suspected emergency landing was captured on Minnesota Department of Transportation traffic cameras.

"I only saw something for a split second before it hit me," Yurik said. "They hit the ground and then immediately hit me and we kind of slid together down the highway. And then it was just so incredibly loud, the crunching of metal. That's what keeps going through my head is the noise and just thinking, there is no way we could all be OK after that kind of an impact."

She said the next thing she remembers is looking outside at the plane.

"A man and a woman were in the plane and when I eventually looked up, they were hugging each other, obviously thankful they were able to land," Yurik said.

The State Patrol identified the pilot as 52-year-old Craig Gifford, of Minneapolis.

According to Gifford's personal website, he is an experienced aviator who has been a pilot for more than 30 years. The website states that he has also competed in the World Advanced Aerobatic Championships.

Yurik said the pilot told her he had a complete engine failure. She said he helped pull her to safety after they collided.

"Of course it was an absolute circus. They helped me get underneath the plane and get to safety because the plane was kind of smoking," Yurik recalled. "They were both beyond kind and so apologetic. He told me several times that he tried to avoid exactly what happened. He was doing an emergency landing and was trying to land in between vehicles and of course that didn't work out. He's just an amazing guy. Of all the people to have gotten hit by an airplane by, I'm glad it was him."

The State Patrol said no one was hurt in the incident. The SUV and plane both suffered damage.

Yurik said, in the moments following the impact, she was inspired by all the witnesses who stopped to help at the scene.

"Just all the people that were there, that were checking, it really makes you look around at your community and be like, wow, this is unbelievable that there are that many kind people in this world," Yurik said. "And I am just so unbelievably grateful that I got to come home to my family."

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — The pilot of a small plane that made an emergency landing on a Minnesota interstate Wednesday has been identified as an award-winning member of the U.S. aerobatics flying team.

The Bellanca 17-30A Viking landed and hit a vehicle, temporarily closing part of the highway Wednesday night in the St. Paul suburb of Arden Hills, officials said. Two people were on board, KMSP-TV reported, and authorities said no injuries were reported.

The pilot was identified as 52-year-old Craig Gifford, a Minneapolis resident and competitive aerobatic pilot, a sport that involves flying aircraft in a series of maneuvers. Experimental Aircraft Association spokesman Dick Knapinski said Gifford represented the United States in international competition in 2017 and 2019 on the Unlimited Aerobatic Team, which took home the bronze medal at the world championships in South Africa in 2017.

Knapinski said pilots take aerobatic training lessons to learn how to better maneuver aircraft in emergency situations, which he said explains how Gifford’s skills helped him pull off the “textbook emergency landing” on the interstate Wednesday night.

“Pilots are trained to deal with emergency engine problems and things like that if you have to make an emergency landing, and so the combination of that training and certainly (Gifford’s) aerobatic training really paid off in this situation,” he said.

Gifford declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation into the incident by the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board.


    This aircraft (N28067) is not available for public tracking per request from the owner/operator.

  2. Video here:

  3. Pilot, Craig Gifford, did a better job of merging into traffic than some people in cars.

  4. Watch the video again, from touch touchdown to striking the car (touchdown starts at the 5 second mark). At BEST, she had 3 seconds to see the landing light (which would have looked like a single headlamp in the left lane), register that it was a plane, register that the plane has 30 foot wingspan, register that she needed to move over. Also, the low wings of the bellanca struck the SUV midway up the rear door, not much chance of the driver ever seeing the strobe given that rear view mirrors only show you a tiny vertical slice of the world behind you.

    Last time I checked, the ASF and the SSF both report that it takes at least 2 seconds for a PILOT in an emergency to register the fact that they are having an emergency.

    She had no chance to see that plane.

    1. Also allow for the brightness of the aircraft's landing and strobe lights - the glare of which would make identifying it as an aircraft almost impossible even if they were visible in the mirror. To the SUV's driver, it would look like an emergency vehicle approaching from behind.

  5. Great job by a professional in an emergency situation!

  6. Outstanding pilot skills. The Viking is a well made aircraft!

  7. A miracle for sure. A highly skilled pilot using his superior flying skills that keep damage of things to a minimum and protected life to a maximum! Good News for a G A accident finally. Maybe this will break this years cycle.

  8. I owned and flew a Bellanca Super Viking like this one for 10 years ... it's considered the "Ferrari" of single engine airplanes ... it's a super airplane ... normal approach speed for landing on an airport runway would be about 90+ mph without crosswind ... stall in clean configuration is 76 mph ... stall in landing configuration (gear and flaps down) is 66 mph ... in THIS case, his gear is down but not his flaps which could have allowed a slower "approach" speed ... THEORETICALLY, *IF* the traffic was flowing at 70 mph, this plane could have employed gear and 1 click on the flaps and dropped down in front of moving traffic at 70 mph (4 mph above dirty stall speed) ... essentially "matching" the moving traffic speed ... and slowly dropped speed by trimming its nose up to touch down speed of 66 mph and then braked to a stop which would normally take from 1,000 - 1,350 feet. In THIS case he needed to get down ASAP with no engine so he had to pick a spot and commit ... he was coming in a bit faster than he would have liked, and the car he hit wasn't doing 70 mph ... but as they say, any landing you walk away from is a good landing!

    1. good commentary. Flaps in a Viking increase drag which eats energy. Energy which may have been needed to clear the overpass immediately before the camera scene.

    2. I fly this model and it is indeed a super airplane. This fella did an amazing job at landing it on a freeway at night! Years ago, I thought about this exact scenario and what I would do. The best glide speed for this plane is roughly 100 mph, no flaps. That is the configuration the pilot would configure once he lost his engine. Then pick a spot and line it up. The only difference in what he did and what my emergency plan thought entailed was a final deployment of flaps. In my imagination, my plan was to swoop in and level off at about 115 feet above the highway. Pick a spot, if available in open traffic, lower flaps and settle in to the opening. As observed above, the flaps on the Bellanca eat a lot of energy quickly. My guess, after reading about this accident, is that I would forget about the flaps in the heat of the moment! Glad this worked out without significan injury!

  9. and the choice of gear up or down with retractable gear!
    'If you're flying a retractable gear plane, you need to decide if you want your gear up or down during landing. If you're touching down on something soft, like a plowed field, landing with your gear down means there's a reasonable chance your gear will dig into the dirt and flip your plane. So if you're faced with a soft field in a retractable gear plane, intentionally landing with your gear up might mean you'll have a slower deceleration. But if you're landing on a hard surface, putting your gear down helps cushion your touchdown, as well as decelerate your plane all the way to a complete stop.'

  10. Another superiority of the Super Viking! Gear do not fully retract into the wing and forward fuselage. With a gear up landing, you'll lose the clamshell doors and the prop, but with very minimal damage to the airplane. I've got 300hrs in mine, my dad 1200hrs before me, same tail number! You aluminum pilots take a second look at that picture.. other than a messed up pilot's-side main and one bent prop blade, I can't see any damage! Would you trade the results here for a chance to better him in your tin can? :)

  11. I Owned a Lycoming powered Viking. Great airplane. Had a problem with a gear Power Pac once, slowed down and got the gear to " Lock down " ok, uneventful landing.
    The model 1731 is rare and a great handling, fast airplane, with a ski tube and factory 02! I miss it.