Plane crashes short of Sisters runway; pilot unhurt

Says he'd run out of fuel in stiff winds

POSTED: 10:16 PM PDT September 1, 2013    UPDATED: 8:35 PM PDT September 2, 2013 
SISTERS, Ore. -

A Tigard man whose small plane ran out of fuel on a flight from Idaho to California tried to land at the Sisters Eagle Airport Sunday evening, but crash-landed about 200 yards short of the runway, authorities said, adding that the unhurt pilot got out of the damaged plane on his own.

Deschutes County sheriff’s deputies, Oregon State Police troopers and Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District crews were dispatched around 6:15 p.m. on the report of an apparent plane crash at the Sisters Airport, said sheriff’s Lt. Bryan Husband.

A nearby resident told a 911 dispatcher they had seen a plane on its side in a field southeast of the runway.

First responders found the two-seat single-engine plane in a field, about 200 yards southeast of the runway.

Pilot Daniel Bernath, 53, of Tigard, was alone and already had gotten out of the plane, apparently unhurt. Medics checked him at the scene and he did not require medical treatment, Husband said.

Bernath told officials he was flying from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho to Sacramento, Calif., when he ran out of fuel, having encountered some unexpected stiff winds, Husband said.

Bernath tried to make it to the Sisters Airport, but didn’t make to the runway and was forced to land in the field. Husband said the plane sustained significant damage to its nose and undercarriage, but the pilot was buckled in appropriately.

 The crash was far enough from the runway that air traffic was unimpeded, Husband said, adding that the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board have been advised of the crash.

"When you hear of a plane crash, you automatically think of severe injury -- serious injury or death," Husband said at the scene. "But thankfully, in this case, neither of those were the case. Something like this does not happen very often, but obviously, they are a very serious event, when they do occur, and we need to treat them very cautiously."

Husband said he didn't know if Bernath had landed in Sisters before.