Report: Student pilot, instructor tried to avoid plane in fatal collision

Report: Student pilot, instructor tried to avoid plane in fatal collision
An airplane sits in a field where it made an emergency landing after colliding with another airplane. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

PORTLAND, Ore. – A flight instructor and his student pilot attempted to avoid a plane they collided with over Champoeg State Park last month, according to a preliminary NTSB report released Tuesday.

Stephen Watson, 58, died when his Beech V35 airplane collided with the twin-engine Piper flown by Travis Thompson and his student, Henrik Kalberg, Oct. 25.

Other pilots in the area reported seeing the Beech flying parallel to the ground at the time but Thompson told federal investigators Watson was flying toward him at a "slightly steeper than average descent."

According to the report, Thompson told Kalberg to change course to avoid the other plane. He re-established visual contact with it "behind and above" his plane and then felt a "violent shudder." Thompson initially thought he and his student pilot had hit geese.

Thompson took control of the plane and was able to make an emergency landing in Champoeg State Park. He and Kalberg weren't seriously injured.

The report also confirmed the Piper was on a training flight, and the pilot in training was at the controls at the time of the collision.

At this point investigators are not putting anyone at fault.

Watson was a 26-year veteran with the Oregon State Police. He first started as a trooper in Astoria in 1976 and in 1988 he transferred as a sergeant to the Tillamook office where he spent the rest of his career.

Watson retired in 2002 and was working at the University of Portland as an Assistant Director of Public Safety.