Monday, September 26, 2022

Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee, N7063R: Fatal accident occurred September 22, 2022 in Sisters, 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.

Investigator In Charge (IIC): Stein, Stephen

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities: 
Dee Rice; Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Portland, Oregon 
Piper Aircraft Company; Vero Beach, Florida
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania 

Location: Sisters, Oregon
Accident Number: WPR22FA354
Date and Time: September 22, 2022, 14:39 Local
Registration: N7063R
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-140 Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On September 22, 2022, about 1439 Pacific daylight time, a Piper PA-28-140, N7063R, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Sisters, Oregon. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The pilot used an online flight planning tool for his enroute and destination performance planning. Data retrieved from the online tool showed that the pilot had planned to depart a private strip in Llano, California about 0700 and then fly a succession of waypoints and fuel stops while enroute to his final destination of Curtis, Washington (0WA2). The data did not include any flight tracking information such as global position system coordinates. His planned route of flight comprised the following waypoints (in the reported order): Rosamond, California (L00), Sanger, California (9CA7) followed by a stopover in Jackson, California (JAQ). Fuel records from the JAQ airport showed that the pilot purchased 25 gallons of 100 low lead aviation grade gasoline at 0953. The pilot’s subsequent waypoints included Nevada County, California (GOO) followed by Sisters, Oregon (6K5) where the pilot purchased another 29 gallons of fuel at 1400. According to an airport surveillance video, the pilot departed 6K5 about 1410. He had planned to fly through Scappoose, Oregon prior to landing at his final destination.

A witness located about 0.50 nm north of the accident site heard the airplane during its final moments. The witness reported that between 1430 and 1445 she heard a small airplane that was flying close to her that caught her attention. She heard a “thud” sound approximately 30 seconds later at which point she began to look for the airplane. The witness stated that the engine sounded smooth and continuous prior to impact. Another witness, who was located about 1,000 ft from the accident site, stated that he heard the airplane impact the ground about 1439.

According to both witnesses, the ground visibility was low due to thick fog at the time of the accident.

The airplane came to rest on a 60° slope on the northeast side of South Cinder Peak in the Jefferson Wilderness at a field elevation of about 6,500 ft mean sea level. All four corners of the airplane were accounted for at the accident site. The first point of impact (FPI) was about 500 ft from the top of the peak and was marked by a large ground scar about 6 feet wide. The main wreckage was located down the hill about 20 ft northeast of the FPI and was comprised of both wings, the fuselage and empennage. The engine was collocated with the FPI.

The right and left ailerons were attached to their respective wings, which remained attached at the carry through spar. Both wing leading edge surfaces were crushed chordwise and the leading edge skin forward of the fuel tanks exhibited evidence of hydraulic deformation. The right and left wingtips had separated from their respective wings. The airplane fuselage and cabin were crushed beneath the wings and could not be identified due to their orientation at the accident site. The empennage was inverted, which exposed the anti-servo tab and both stabilators. The vertical stabilizer and rudder assembly were crushed, but remained partially attached to the empennage. Several airframe fragments were distributed along the slope of the peak, below the main wreckage.

The wreckage has been retained for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper 
Registration: N7063R
Model/Series: PA-28-140 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built:
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: IMC 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KRDM,3084 ft msl 
Observation Time: 13:56 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 34 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 21°C /6°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 13 knots / , 310°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.11 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Sisters, OR (6K5)
Destination: Curtis, WA (0WA2)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries:
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Latitude, Longitude: 44.569412,-121.80544 (est)

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email You can also call the NTSB Response Operations Center at 844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290.

Aircraft crashed under unknown circumstances.  

Date: 23-SEP-22
Time: 17:15:00Z
Regis#: N7063R
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA28
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: FATAL
Total Fatal: 1
Flight Crew: 1 Fatal
Pax:  0
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)
Operation: 91

The family of a Washington man who died in a plane crash deep in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness say they’re facing a $25,000 to $50,000 bill to remove the plane’s debris from a steep mountainside far from any road.

Wayne Wirt, 67, of Chehalis, Washington, died about 4:15 p.m. September 22 when his Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee crashed just south of Mount Jefferson on a high peak during a solo flight between California and Washington.

Wirt, who built movie sets in southern California before retiring to Chehalis years ago, leaves behind a wife and three children who now bear the cost of paying to have the plane’s debris removed from a location that’s extremely difficult to access.

“This heavy cost falls on (the) family to cover,” wrote April Winters, Wayne’s daughter-in-law, on a GoFundMe page set up to help raise the money.

She said the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Linn County Sheriff's Office are looking into what caused the crash.

Pilot Wayne Wirt, left, of Chehalis, Washington, died in a plane crash in late September in Mount Jefferson Wilderness.  

MARION FORKS, Oregon (KTVZ) – The Linn County Sheriff's Office has released more details about the search for and discovery of a single-engine plane that crashed east of Marion Lake, between Mount Jefferson and Three Fingered Jack.

Linn County Sheriff Michelle Duncan reported late Friday that on Thursday at 4:14 p.m., Linn County dispatch received information an airplane went down in the area of Mount Jefferson. Hikers in the area reported hearing what sounded like an airplane engine followed by a loud crash.

Two hikers were on the Pacific Crest Trail when they heard the crash and said they could smell fuel but did not see an airplane. The report was followed by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) contacting dispatch and saying they had an airplane radar that disappeared over the Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area.

Around 6:25 p.m. Thursday, the AFRCC called back and said they confirmed radar showed a small plane go down and provided a general area.

Linn County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue, along with a Life Flight helicopter, were activated to search for the downed airplane. Life Flight flew the area but was not able to identify a crash site due to weather conditions. Additional air resources (the U.S. Coast Guard) also responded and were unable to locate a downed plane.

While crews were searching, the AFRCC advised they had received a report of a missing/overdue aircraft. The missing aircraft was a Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee from Llano, California (a town in Los Angeles County).

On Friday at around 9 a.m., a Coast Guard helicopter flying search patterns during the daylight located the crash site east of Marion Lake between Mount Jefferson and Three Fingered Jack.

The sheriff said Linn County Search and Rescue teams hiked into the area and set up camp near the crash location. Rescuers confirmed the pilot was deceased, as the crash was not survivable. The identity of the pilot has not been released at this time.

The investigation is ongoing as the Linn County Sheriff’s Office coordinates with the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board. The Linn County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Deschutes County Dispatch Center, Life Flight, the US Coast Guard, Federal Aviation Administration, and National Transportation Safety Board with this investigation.

"Our sincerest condolences go out to the friends and family of the individual during this difficult time," the Coast Guard said.



    1. KTVZ reports the plane had just refueled in Sisters Oregon and crashed shortly thereafter. Could this be a fueling problem; contamination in the fuel?

    2. The Sisters Eagle Airport potential fuel issue may be real.In the past there has been numerous comments in the Sisters flying community about very old fuel, This was attributed to exceptionally higher prices than anywhere else in the area, therefore,little fuel sales for several years. This airport is privately owned and has had numerous issues with the adjoining air parks and the community. It recently was accused by the State of Oregon of misuse of a large sum of Grant money issued to them for airport runway improvement.They have agreed to a settlement with the State.The air park owners often threaten lawsuits to anyone bad mouthing the airport or its issues, so nothing gets reported. With this said, the possibility of contaminated or bad fuel most certainly needs to be looked into. The victims family and the NTSB both
      should be made aware of this possibility.
      We must keep in mind that the fuel may NOT be the cause of this incident and the current fuel may be perfectly good. The fuel issue should still be investigated fully.

    3. My gut instinct reading these accidents is almost always correct. This comes from years and years of experience. I’ve been flying GA for over 33 yrs, flew in the Navy for 12 years and have been flying for the airlines for 10 years. Although fuel contamination accidents do happen, this accident does not fit the profile. You don’t pile drive your aircraft into the side of a mountain because of fuel contamination. You pile drive your airplane into the side of a mountain when you inadvertently fly VFR into IMC (known as IIMC) and then either lose control trying to get back to VMC or CFIT (controlled flight into terrain) into the side of the mountain that you “didn’t see”. Through my experience, I can almost guarantee that the final report will involve IIMC with either LOC or CFIT. Clearly the weather at the sisters airport was clear enough for him to takeoff, but I strongly suspect that they were pockets of IMC in the mountains, as reported by witnesses that said it was foggy. Apparently he was trying to cross the mountains to head to Scappoose Oregon for his next stop, which is on the west side of the Cascade man’s.

    4. I also agree. Witnesses reporting hearing the plan flying very low, steady engine and then a thud. Sounds like IMC CFIT. That plan hit at well over 100kts.

  2. Above article indicates the pilot is from Challis, WA on a flight that originated in Llano, CA.

    1. That’s correct. The pilot owned a home in both locations.

  3. Wonder why Civil Air Patrol wasn’t involved? They have two planes in Salem flying nearly everyday.

  4. In a remote wilderness area the CAP does not have any rescue/hoist capability. Likely the Coast Guard had one of their rescue helicopters in the air & could respond the quickest.

  5. There is a YouTube video of the recovery of this aircraft recently posted at this address: