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New Photos Of Baffling Citation Crash In Oregon

The pilot and one passenger were killed when the small jet crashed into high terrain after losing contact with ATC.

Photo of a Citation crash in Oregon. Courtesy of John Parker.
Photo of a Citation crash in Oregon. Courtesy of John Parker.

A pilot and his sole passenger were killed when the light jet they were flying in crashed near Warm Springs, Oregon, in the high terrain of the Mutton Mountains last Saturday, January 9, 2021. The Cessna Citation 560 left a small scar in the snowy ground, indicating a near-vertical impact.

The excellent images here are special to Plane & Pilot, courtesy of John Parker, who was flying near the site of the crash very shortly after it happened.

Photo of a Citation crash site in Oregon. Courtesy of John Parker
Photo of a Citation crash site in Oregon. Courtesy of John Parker

The cause is a mystery. The pilot had apparently busted an assigned altitude while on an IFR trip from Portland-area Troutdale Airport to Boise. When the controller tried to contact the pilot, there was no response. About half an hour later, the crash site, which had been spotted by another aircraft, was confirmed. Recovery efforts started, though they were hampered by difficult winter conditions.

Searchers were eventually able to reach the site and recovered the remains of the occupants and the plane’s cockpit voice recorder, though the NTSB has not yet revealed what, if anything, they learned from the cockpit voice recorder.

After losing contact with ATC, the plane, radar data show, began a long spiral descent from around 30,000 feet, eventually crashing approximately eight minutes later, all with no contact with ATC. In crashes such as this, in which a pilot loses contact and the plane crashes apparently while not commanded by the pilot, investigators look into possible pilot incapacitation, especially hypoxia.

We’ll keep you posted on details as they emerge. If it does indeed wind up being a hypoxia cause, the cockpit voice recorder will probably not have much useful information, though the medical examiner will likely be able to tell if the occupants were hypoxic at the time of the crash.

Photo of a Citation crash site in Oregon. Courtesy of John Parker
Photo of a Citation crash site in Oregon. Courtesy of John Parker

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