Witnesses say plane dove into other in fatal collision

Witnesses say plane dove into other in fatal collision
An airplane sits in a field where it made an emergency landing late Tuesday after colliding with another airplane on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

PORTLAND, Ore. – Yamhill County investigators are looking into eyewitness reports that one plane dove right into the other in a midair collision over Champoeg State Park Tuesday that killed a local pilot.

The crash happened when a twin-engine Piper flown by Beaverton flight instructor, Travis Thompson, and his student, Henrik Kalberg, collided with a Beech plane flown by Stephen Watson. Watson was killed.

Witnesses told sheriff's investigators they saw the Piper doing training exercises when its underside hit the top of the Beech.

Thompson and Kalberg survived.

The National Transportation Safety Board has interviewed them but isn't commenting on what they said.

Watson, 58, was a 26-year veteran with the Oregon State Police. He first started as a trooper in Astoria in 1976 and in 1988 he transferred as a sergeant to the Tillamook office where he spent the rest of his career.

Watson retired in 2002 and was currently working at the University of Portland as an Assistant Director of Public Safety. Students and faculty were notified of his death.

Champoeg State Park was closed during the investigation. State park officials said it reopened Thursday afternoon.