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Prospect Airport Manager Describes Hectic Scene Looking for Missing Pilot

Walter Ridge, the Manager at Prospect Airport keeps an eye on everything around here.

Posted: Jan 29, 2019 11:09 PM
Updated: Jan 30, 2019 9:29 AM

PROSPECT, Ore. —  On Tuesday afternoon, the Prospect Airport was quiet — much like Monday, before everything started.

"We had a pilot down there that was working on his plane for the last couple of days," said Walter Ridge, Manager at Prospect Airport.

Ridge keeps an eye on everything around the airport. He told NewsWatch 12 that he saw Steven Dawson Jr. taxiing his plane around the runway on Monday afternoon.

"He decided to take and run up and down the runway I guess," Ridge said.

Seeing planes driving around isn't anything new to Ridge. Monday was different though.

"My daughter-in-law, she came in and she told me 'Dad he hasn't come back,'" Ridge said.

His son and wife drove up and down the runway looking for Dawson or the plane.

"They saw his truck with the door open, the driver side door open and all the tools laying out there and the truck running," Ridge said.

It didn't take Ridge long to realize that there was a problem. 

He called 9-1-1 and Search and Rescue teams arrived shortly after.But it wasn't until 10 a.m. on Tuesday morning that Dawson was found — two and a half miles in front of the runway.

"We basically probably saved a life. He was pretty well broken up, pretty well beaten up," Ridge said.

Ridge says it sounds like an engine problem that forced him to land.

There's only been three crashes in the Prospect area since Ridge has worked at the airport and that's been about 30 years. So for Ridge, he'd rather see Dawson flying somewhere else.

"Yeah someplace else, haha not here. That's too hectic, you know, for having something like this happen."

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