Engine FAILURE – Pilot Faces NIGHTMARE


An experienced pilot in a small aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing on the surface of the Colombia River after his small plane’s engine sputtered and died while he was on final approach to the general aviation Troutdale Airport on the afternoon of Monday the 24th.

Rick Boettcher, a 25 year veteran of the skies, conducted a successful crash and walked away from his downed aircraft unhurt after the 3:15 PM set-down in the Sandy River Delta near Gary Island Park.

After the plane hit the water, Boettcher clambered over the passenger seat and extricated himself from the plane, then took to the water and swam to shore. Emergency services personnel found him on the river banks and transported him to Chinook Landing to get a medical check-out.

Recounting the airborne emergency, Boettcher said that he was approaching Troutdale to land from downwind, he turned “to base” and the engine just quit working. He tried everything he could think of to get the engine of his Mooney 231 re-started while he still had time, but there was no getting it running again. 

He had only seconds to sort his options and decide on a course of action, and all while he was still flying the airplane. He quickly realized that he didn’t have the altitude to glide safely to the runway, so he cast about for alternate emergency landing sites. The best site he could find, one that was away from power lines and other potential complications, was on the surface of the water of the Colombia river.

The 73 year-old pilot said that, despite having been a pilot for a quarter-century, this was the first emergency landing he’d ever had to make.

Mike Trager, one of the emergency services personnel from Gresham who was dispatched to the site of the crash, said that Boettcher was initially hard to find, because he wasn’t where they expected him to be. It was the first emergency water landing he’d ever seen where the pilot walked away unscathed.