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N2368M accident description

Oregon map... Oregon list
Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Salem, OR
44.942898°N, 123.035096°W
Tail number N2368M
Accident date 31 Jul 1994
Aircraft type Piper PA-12
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On July 31, 1994, at 1550 Pacific daylight time, a float-equipped Piper PA-12, N2368M, collided with a canoe on the Willamette River, located ten miles north of Salem, Oregon. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed. The airplane received minor damage and the airline transport pilot was not injured. Two adults in the canoe were fatally injured. Two children and a dog, who were also in the canoe, escaped injury. The flight had last departed from Newberg, Oregon.

During an interview, the pilot reported that after departing from Newberg, he proceeded to follow the Willamette River heading south-bound to Independence, Oregon, the pilot's home base. While en route, the pilot performed several touch-and-go landings on the river. When the flight approached the Wheatland Ferry terminal, the pilot stated that he touched down north of the terminal and proceeded to step-taxi the airplane through a populated swimming, boating and ferry terminal area. Approximately 200 feet south of the ferry terminal, the airplane collided with a 16-foot canoe that was paralleling the shoreline heading south. The pilot stated that he never saw the canoe but heard a bump and thought that the float collided with a rock. The pilot immediately pulled up and, during a climbing left turn, noticed the overturned canoe and the victims in the water. The pilot returned for landing after calling for assistance through the Salem tower. The pilot stated that he had passed through this area several times before and never had a problem. In addition, the pilot stated that his visibility outside the airplane was good and unobstructed.

Witnesses and law enforcement personnel estimated that approximately 200 people were in or near the water at the time of the collision. Witnesses stated that the airplane was travelling just west of the river's centerline at approximately 30 to 35 miles per hour. Just before the collision, some of the witnesses stated that it sounded like the engine powered up.


The pilot holds an Airline Transport pilot certificate and is rated for single-engine land and sea, multi-engine land, glider, and rotorcraft. In addition, the pilot holds certification for flight instructor in single and multi-engine airplanes, instrument airplane, rotorcraft and glider.

The pilot reported a total flight time of 5,000 hours with 100 hours in the make and model of airplane involved in the accident.


The pilot reported that the airplane was purchased on June 29, 1994.


During the on site investigation, it was found that at the time of the collision, the ferry boat was docked on the east shore, loading vehicles. The ferry crosses the approximate 500 foot wide river every two to four minutes. The ferry is electrically powered and uses an unmarked power line that crosses the river east to west. Another marked power line crosses the river approximately 100 feet north of the ferry boat wire.

The airplane was viewed after it had been towed and docked at Independence, Oregon. The bow of the right float displayed skin wrinkles just aft of the rubber bumper and an indentation was noted underneath the bumper near the bow. The top side forward tie-down cleat on the right float was partially pulled from the attachment. The cable running from the right cleat to the left side cleat was loose.

The aft float spreader bar displayed an impact indentation located approximately one foot outboard of the left float. No other damage was noted to the airplane.

The canoe was viewed at the Yamhill County Sheriff's Department storage facility. The 16 foot aluminum canoe displayed impact damage to the stern consisting of wrinkles to the aluminum side, and the top side stern cap was pulled upward. The starboard side of the canoe was pushed inward near the bow seat. The forward support cross strut was separated from the starboard side attachment.

The starboard side of the bow seat was separated from the attach fitting. The bow cap was pushed slightly downward on the right side and displayed a tear to the bow cap.


The pilot holds a second class medical certificate dated October 2, 1993. A limitation to wear corrective lenses was listed.

At 1900 hours on July 31, 1994, at the request of the Yamhill County Sheriff, the pilot consented to have blood withdrawn and a urine sample taken for the purpose of testing. The results of those tests were negative.

The Oregon State Medical Examiner reported that the cause of death to the male victim, who was seated in the stern of the canoe, was from exsanguination from lacerations of the scalp and right arm. The cause of death to the female victim, who was seated at the bow of the canoe, was from a comminuted occipital skull fracture with massive brain injuries.


During the interview with the pilot, a rough drawing of the area was presented to the pilot for inspection. The pilot agreed to the accuracy of the drawing. A depiction of that drawing is indicated under Supplement I.

Personnel from the Yamhill County Sheriff's Department reported that the Wheatland Ferry Terminal is a popular area for swimmers, picnickers and boaters. There are no fueling or docking facilities available. A state park is located on the east side of the river and provides limited picnic facilities.

The airplane was released to the owner on August 17, 1994. The airplane's last known location was at Independence, Oregon. The canoe remained in the custody of the Yamhill County Sheriff's Department after NTSB investigative inspection was completed on August 1, 1994.

NTSB Probable Cause


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