Klamath Falls pilot Abraham “Dutch” Van Rood, 79, was killed when he crashed his ultralight experimental aircraft in an alfalfa field north of the Southside Bypass Wednesday. [Herald and News / Holly Dillemuth]

Feds won't investigate Klamath Falls fatal plane crash

Because of the experimental nature of the aircraft, the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration will not investigate a crash that killed Klamath Falls pilot Abraham “Dutch” Van Rood Wednesday morning.

The Klamath County Sheriff’s Office has taken the lead on investigating the crash, though it is being considered accidental at this time, Sheriff Chris Kaber said.

“The FAA has inspected the crash site,” Kaber said. “They’ve authorized the landowner to remove the aircraft from the field. They’re going to move the aircraft to an unused portion of the field and wait for further removal later.

“Since it was not built commercially, it doesn’t come under their purview or meet their criteria for NTSB to respond,” Kaber added.

Van Rood, 79, crashed the ultralight experimental aircraft in an alfalfa field north of the Southside Bypass off of Homedale Road shortly after 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Doug Cunningham, air traffic manager at the Crater Lake-Klamath Regional Airport control tower, confirmed the aircraft took off from Klamath Falls’ airport at about 9:50 a.m.

Cunningham said the last communication with Van Rood was as he was exiting the tower’s Class D air space.

“Technically he should have called us,” Cunningham said. “He was probably trying to make it back to the airport. You just don’t know.”

Van Rood has a hangar at the airport, airport officials said.

Cunningham said he sees quite a few experimental aircraft in the area, many of them built from very expensive kits.

A short cellphone video obtained by the sheriff’s office shows the experimental aircraft crashing nose-first into the field, sustaining “full-frontal impact,” Kaber said.

“The video helps us understand the last three seconds,” Kaber said. “It’s apparent that it was an uncontrolled flight of the aircraft.”

An autopsy has been scheduled with the State Medical Examiner’s Office, though results may or may not be released at the discretion of the sheriff’s office and Van Rood’s family.

“We intend to have a detective at the autopsy which is just normal procedure,” Kaber said.

Kaber said Van Rood’s family is en route from out of state.

“We do have some private property that belonged to him that was recovered at the scene, so we’ll make sure that gets back to the family,” Kaber said.

Alan Kenniser, FAA spokesman, said the plane was an unregistered Belite ultralight. Because it meets certain weight restrictions and is labeled as an experimental aircraft, the pilot does not have to register it or own a pilot’s license to fly it. A check of FAA records reveals that Van Rood had once applied for a pilot’s license, but it was rejected or he never obtained one.

Kaber said Van Rood owned the aircraft for about a year, and had flown it before.

“He was flying on a perfectly calm, clear morning,” Kaber added. “It was probably the only type of morning you’d want to fly a small plane like that.”

Share This Story