No blame in fatal 2011 midair collision

No blame in fatal 2011 midair collision
An airplane sits in a field where it made an emergency landing late Tuesday after colliding with another airplane on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The pilots of two small planes that collided in midair near Wilsonville in 2011 likely couldn't see each other, according to a report from the National Transportation Safety Board.

One pilot, a retired State Police sergeant, was killed. The other pilot and a student in his plane landed safely.

The report released last week does not assign blame and said the conclusion is based on factors such as the planes' positions, courses and speeds.

"Unfortunately, we don't have records on small planes to put together the exact way they collided," lead investigator Joshua Cawthra told The Oregonian. "But we do know that both pilots had a lot of structure in their view."

One pilot's view likely was blocked by his plane's wing and engine, while the other pilot's view was obstructed by his plane's door post and cabin roof, said the report.

The area where the collision occurred is not under formal air traffic control, but pilots are required to fly by visual flight rules.

Flight instructor Travis Thompson, 31, of Beaverton, and student Henrik Murer Kalberg, 23, of Holmestrand, Norway, landed their twin-engine Piper PA-44-180 Seminole in a field adjacent to the Champoeg State Heritage Area west of Wilsonville. Neither was hurt.

The other plane, a single-engine Beech Bonanza V35, broke apart in midair. Pilot Stephen L. Watson, 58, of Beaverton, died. The former state trooper had an airline-transport flight rating.

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Information from: The Oregonian, http://www.oregonlive.com