Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Cessna 180K Skywagon, N13159: Accident occurred June 14, 2021 near Ohio State University Airport (KOSU), Columbus, Ohio

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; Columbus, Ohio

Location: Columbus, OH
Accident Number: CEN21LA265
Date & Time: June 14, 2021, 08:52 Local 
Registration: N13159
Aircraft: Cessna 180K 
Injuries: 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On June 14, 2021, at 0852 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 180K, N13159, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Columbus, Ohio. The pilot sustained minor injuries. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The pilot reported that she took off uneventfully and executed a climbing right turn before leveling off at 1,000 ft above ground level. Shortly thereafter, the airplane’s engine sputtered briefly. The pilot contacted air traffic control and initiated a 180° turn toward the airport when the engine lost all power.

She checked the magnetos, but to no avail. Unable to make it to the airport, the pilot initiated a slight left turn towards an open field; she also noted that airplane’s radios turned off. The airplane impacted a heavily wooded area short of the open field and descended to the ground below. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the wings and empennage.

The airplane was recovered to a secure location for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N13159
Model/Series: 180K 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KOSU,905 ft msl 
Observation Time: 08:53 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 
Temperature/Dew Point: 25°C /14°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 10000 ft AGL
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 7 knots / , 250°
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.9 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Columbus, OH
Destination: Columbus, OH

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Minor
Latitude, Longitude: 40.07951,-83.07321 (est)

Christine Mortine

After her aircraft’s lone engine failed, Christine Mortine was too busy to be afraid.

Shortly after taking off from Ohio State University Airport in a Cessna on June 14, the engine made a sound she didn’t like.

She immediately radioed the tower to say she was returning to the airport. Seconds later, the engine died, making the return impossible.

She described what happened next in a recent presentation to the Scioto Valley Ninety-Nines, a female pilot organization.

“The first thing I see is the golf course (Brookside Golf and Country Club near Worthington), and that was a no-go because there’s trees, and it’s not level, and there’s lots of people there.”

Next, she spotted the soccer fields at Perry Park.

“I realize maybe halfway there that that was not a good option because the homes are right up against the fields ... so I look straight ahead and that’s where I find a location. It was trees and no visible rooftops and that’s where I went. Because in those seconds of my life, the priority was not to kill anybody else.”

She was too focused to feel fear, she said. As the plane glided into the wooded ravine she had targeted, she remembers just colors and a sensation.

“Green, green, green,” she said. “And then — stopped.”

The flight, which lasted between 9 and 11 minutes, ended in the backyard of a house on Ravine Ridge Drive, about two miles from the airport.

Only after examining the wreckage later did she surmise what happened. As she entered the tree canopy, a Norway maple caught the underside of a wing. It spun the plane like a square dancer swinging a partner, diverting her from a collision course with other trees.

(She’s having the downed maple, which bent to the ground but didn’t break, turned into a sculpture, bowls and trivets.)

Mortine, 60, of Riverlea, is a cellist, pianist, opera singer and the founder of the Columbus Bach Ensemble, which performed locally for many years before disbanding in 2006. She took up flying at age 45 and quickly fell in love with it. She formed a company called Christine Aviation, acquired a Cessna 185 that she nicknamed Songbird and began offering flight instruction.

Her training, her numerous flights to Western states (“I’m a mountain girl”) and the insights she gained into death as a hospice volunteer combined to keep her calm on that morning in June, she said.

Her plan had been to fly to Port Clinton, pick up a passenger and then proceed to North Bass Island in Lake Erie, where she was helping to establish a fly-in camp for aviators.

She took off just before 9 a.m. and had ascended to 2,000 feet when the engine failed and she also lost radio contact. At that point, she began applying everything she’d learned about how to maintain altitude in a distressed aircraft while seeking a place to land.

When the plane finally stopped in the ravine, her first instinct was to find her cellphone.

“Because I had some calls to make,” she explained wryly.

But then she saw gallons of fuel pouring from the Cessna and decided evacuating was the better choice. She crawled out through a window, found the owner of the home whose yard she’d landed in and told her to leave immediately lest the fuel ignite.

Mortine suffered a mild concussion, whiplash, bruises and a pinched nerve. Her demolished airplane remains in the custody of the National Transportation Safety Board, which will seek to determine why the engine failed.

Before climbing into a cockpit again, she took some time off to reflect and to make sure she was physically sound. And then, three weeks after her harrowing descent, Mortine returned to the air in a borrowed craft.

“I felt calm and peaceful,” she said, “And like I was where I should be.”

Christine Mortine



  2. I have a ton of hours in that airplane. I'm sorry to see she's broken, but I'm glad to hear you are alright.