Small Plane Crashes on Columbia River Sandbar

Coast Guard rescuers found the 67-year-old pilot alive and miraculously unscathed.

Posted: Mar 21, 2018 11:05 AM
Updated: Mar 21, 2018 11:07 AM

CLATSKANIE, Ore. — A 67-year-old pilot walked away unharmed after crash-landing on a Columbia River sandbar Tuesday, March 20, according to Oregon State Police (OSP).

The pilot, Douglas Pflugradt, claims that he was forced to execute the emergency landing after experiencing mechanical issues over the Columbia between Washington and Oregon. There were no other passengers in the plane.

Pflugradt attempted to make his emergency landing on a sandbar near Wallace Island, just north of Clatskanie in Oregon. The landing began successfully, with the wheels of Pflugradt’s red Kit Fox Super Sport plane touching down on the sand. However, the plane pitched forward onto its top before skidding to a stop.

Someone spotted the downed plane and called dispatch around 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday. A Coast Guard vessel and aircraft responded to Pfugradt’s location and were quickly joined by OSP.

Coast Guard crews recovered Pflugradt and brought him to Pearson Airfield in Vancouver, Washington.

OSP investigators and recovery crews were attempting to do their work before the rising tide swallowed the sandbar and obscured the plane, however their last statements indicate that the plane still has not been recovered.

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