News Plane Crashes — 18 September 2017

Two people in a small airplane emerged from a freak accident Saturday evening unscathed — after two elk ran into their plane just as it was landing on an Oregon Coast airstrip.

Pilot Todd Rudberg, 49, had just touched down at the Nehalem Bay State Park airstrip on the southern edge of Manzanita at 5:14 p.m. Saturday.

That’s when an elk suddenly ran in front of the plane, Oregon State Police said. Rudberg tried to speed up and relaunch the plane in an attempt to fly over it, but the plane’s landing gear and propeller ended up striking the elk. The elk was killed.

An instant later, a second elk ran in front of the plane and was struck by the left wing, police said. That second elk also died.

Two elk died after a small airplane struck them on an airstrip at Nehalem Bay State Park on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, police said.

Two elk died after a small airplane struck them on an airstrip at Nehalem Bay State Park on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, police said.

The plane spun to a stop on the airstrip. It was totaled, police said.

But Rudberg and passenger Valerie Villacin were uninjured, according to police. Rudberg is from Shoreline, Wash. Villacin, 43, is from Seattle. Rudberg owns the plane, which is a 2003 Vans Aircraft Model RV8, single engine, fixed wing model.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is investigating, and has closed the airstrip.

According to a 26-year study of animal strikes by U.S. aircraft, birds accounted for 95 percent of animal strikes. Land mammals — including dogs, cats, horses and skunks — accounted for 1.6 percent. More than 1,100 deer were struck by aircraft during the study period, from 1990-2015.

Eleven elk were struck, causing $7.6 million in damage, the study found.

This single-engine airplane spun to a stop after striking two elk as it was landing on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, at Nehalem Bay State Park’s airstrip

Fish and Wildlife troopers were able to salvage a large quantity of elk meat from Saturday’s crash, police said. The meat was donated to charity.

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