On September 13, 1997, at 2154 Pacific daylight time, a Piper PA-44-180, N357DA, registered to and operated by Aerowest as a 14 CFR Part 91 instructional flight, collided with a transmission wire during a forced landing on an interstate highway near The Dalles, Oregon. During the landing roll, the right wing struck a pole. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. The airplane was substantially damaged. The flight instructor, private pilot and their two passengers were not injured. The flight had originated from Pullman, Washington about one hour prior to the accident. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The flight instructor reported that while en route at 7,000 feet, the left engine lost power. While the flight instructor was going through the emergency checklist, the second pilot, who was flying the airplane in instrument meteorological conditions, made a turn that the instructor was unaware of. About 15 minutes after the left engine lost power, the right engine lost power. When the airplane broke out of the clouds, the flight instructor thought that they were still heading west, and then noticed that they had turned around and were heading toward The Dalles. Unable to find an airport to land on, the pilot maneuvered the airplane for a landing on Interstate 84 near The Dalles. Before touchdown, the airplane struck power lines that crossed the highway. During the landing roll, the airplane's right wing struck a sign post and a highway reflector pole.
After the accident, a Federal Aviation Administration inspector from the Hillsboro, Oregon, Flight Standards District Office examined the airplane for any fuel leaks or signs of blocks in the fuel system. None were found. The inspector stated that less than a gallon of fuel remained in the fuel system. Fuel was then supplied to the engines. Both engines started immediately and were run for a few minutes before they were shut down.
The flight instructor stated that the purpose of the flight was a long instructional cross-country flight. The flight had taken off from Troutdale en route to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, where a touch and go was made and then proceeded to Pullman, where a landing was made. While en route, to Coeur d'Alene, the flight instructor failed the engines at different times. Cruise power was set and the mixture was leaned. The total flight time for these legs was two hours and 40 minutes. The flight instructor stated that they had planned on refueling at Pullman, however, he mistakenly figured the flight time from Pullman to Troutdale, and thought that they would have at least one hour of fuel reserve upon landing at Troutdale, therefore, they did not take on any fuel at Pullman.