NTSB: Blind spots to blame for 2011 mid-air plane collision - KPTV - FOX 12

NTSB: Blind spots to blame for 2011 mid-air plane collision

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The crash scene near Newberg. The crash scene near Newberg.
Stephen Watson Stephen Watson

Investigators looking into a fatal 2011 plane collision over the Newberg area determined the cause of the mid-air crash was that both planes were in the pilots' blind spots.

The crash along the Willamette River claimed the life of Beaverton pilot Stephen Watson, a retired Oregon State Police trooper who was piloting a Beech V35. His crashed plane left behind a half-acre trail of wreckage north of the river in Marion County.

The second plane, a Piper Seminole twin engine aircraft with 23-year-old student pilot Henrik Kalberg and 31-year-old instructor Travis Thompson inside, made an emergency landing in Champoeg State Park after Thompson took control of the plane.

NTSB investigators said the last recorded radar target for the two planes showed they were on converging paths.

"It could not be determined if either pilot could see the other just before the collision; however, based on the airplanes' relative positions and flight altitudes, it seems unlikely," the report said.

Watson's view of the Piper, which was above and to the left of his flight path, "would likely have been blocked by the airplane's door post and cabin roof structure." Meanwhile, the wing and engine of Kalberg's plane likely blocked the Beech from his field of vision, officials said.

The report found no fault on the part of Kalberg, Thompson or Hillsboro Aviation, where the Piper Seminole plane was registered.

The complete report is available on the NTSB website at this link.

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