Two die in single-engine aircraft crash at Salem Airport

The Beechcraft K35 following a crash at Salem Municipal Airport Jan. 29, 2022. (Courtesy/Salem Police Department)

A pilot from Boring was apparently practicing takeoffs and landings when he crashed his plane at Salem Municipal Airport Saturday, killing himself and his passenger, according to federal authorities.

Salem police identified the victims as Daniel McKenna, 66, and Cynthia McKenna, 61, also of Boring

Michael Hicks, an air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, said Sunday the cause of the accident was not immediately clear. The board investigates the causes of aviation accidents along with the Federal Aviation Administration.

McKenna had taken off in the plane, a single-engine Beechcraft K35 Bonanza, moments before the crash, which happened about 3 p.m.. FAA records show the single-engine plane was manufactured in 1959.

The aircraft is registered in Troutdale, Hicks said. FAA records list McKenna as the owner.

Hicks said McKenna was doing “pattern work,” a term for when pilots remain in an airport’s traffic pattern, often to work on takeoff, taxi and landing. He crashed while attempting to land.

The pilot made no emergency call to the tower before the crash, Hicks said. The weather was clear and flying conditions were good. McKenna was flying using visual flight rules, meaning the weather was clear enough to navigate without the use of the plane’s instruments.

Michael Hicks, air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, briefs media at Salem Municipal Airport on Jan. 30, 2022 (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

McKenna had a private pilot’s license. Hicks said he didn’t know exactly when it was issued, but said McKenna was not a new pilot.

“He’d been flying a lot longer than a day,” Hicks said. The NTSB will look at his training and certifications, including whether he was current on the flight hours required to maintain his license.

“Truthfully, pattern work is something that even student pilots complete, so it is something we’re going to take a look into,” Hicks said.

The crash occurred on Runway 34, one of two main runways at the airport, near what is called Taxiway A, which leads to businesses and hangars. The runway remains closed as of Sunday afternoon, Hicks said, though the plane has been removed from the tarmac.

The last fatal crash at the airport occurred on July 4, 2015, when a pilot crashed while attempting to land, according to NTSB records.

Cynthia McKenna was previously the owner of a print shop in Sandy, the Sandy Post reported.

The NTSB will issue a preliminary report on the cause of the crash in 15 days, Hicks said. A final report may take up to 18 months.

The Beechcraft K35 following a crash at Salem Municipal Airport Jan. 29, 2022. (Courtesy/Salem Police Department)