Mid-air kills one

Aircraft: Piper Seminole, Beech Bonanza. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: St. Paul, Ore. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: A Beech Bonanza and Piper Seminole were both flying in the local practice area in VFR conditions.

A CFI aboard the Seminole reported that at about 7,500 feet MSL, he told the pilot receiving instruction to conduct a simulated emergency descent. The pilot recovered to cruise flight at an altitude of about 4,500 feet MSL before continuing toward a local airport.

The CFI saw a single-engine airplane that appeared to be on a converging course. He transmitted a position report on the intended destination airport’s common traffic advisory frequency and made a slight heading change and descent, then re-established visual contact with the airplane, which was now behind and above the Piper.

The CFI said he then felt a jolt, along with a violent shudder, followed by an uncommanded left roll and yaw. The CFI took control of the airplane and made a forced landing to a nearby open field.

Review of recorded radar data revealed that the Piper was on a northwesterly heading at 7,700 feet MSL when it initiated a right descending turn. Meanwhile, the Beech was traveling on a continuous northeasterly heading at an altitude of about 2,400 feet MSL. The last recorded radar target for each airplane before the collision showed that the airplanes were on converging paths.

Investigators determined that, based on relative positions of the airplanes, and given the other airplane traffic in the area, it seems likely that the single-engine airplane the Piper CFI saw before the collision was not the Beech with which the collision occurred. Investigators noted that it could not be determined if either pilot could see the other just before the collision.

Probable cause: The pilots’ inability to see the other aircraft to avoid a collision.

NTSB Identification: WPR12FA020A

This October 2011 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.


  1. vaughn S. Price says

    Telling everybody on the radio your position is the poorest excuse there is for not checking visually by that thing called swiveling your neck , lowering a wing or raising a wing,and if the sun is shining, find your Shadow on the ground and keep it clear of other shadows. Twice I have had near collisions while under radar control. I use my own eyes, much safer than using somebody else’s eyes.
    I have 15000 accident free general aviation hours in 139 different makes and models

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