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Downed by a duck

Andy Ouriel • Jun 12, 2014 at 8:00 AM


A few new details emerged from a bizarre case when a small plane made an emergency landing on Cedar Point Beach Tuesday afternoon.

Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers determined Huron resident Eric Ryba, 24, flew the plane at about 110 knots, or roughly 125 mph, when he struck an airborne duck shortly after 4 p.m.

“The impact shattered the windshield, and the duck landed in the cockpit,” according to a trooper’s report the Register obtained through a public records request.

Contact occurred as Ryba — flying in a small, white, 2009 Flight Design CTLS registered as N15NK — traveled about 200 feet above the ground and almost 1,000 feet off Cedar Point’s sandy shores.

After impact, the airplane lost its ability to climb, forcing Ryba to make an emergency landing in the northeast corner of the beach by Magnum XL-200 roller coaster.

Among the other facts revealed:

• Ryba flew the plane with Milan resident David Carratola, 21, as a passenger.

• Ryba, who did have a valid pilot’s license, suffered a cut on the right arm while Carratola sustained a cut on his left arm. The injuries didn’t appear serious.

• Billy Rugh III, of Punxsutawney, Pa., owns the plane.

• The report indicates the two took off from the Lorain County Airport at 2:50 p.m. It appears they would arrive back at this location. A flight plan was not filed.

The plane had been removed from Cedar Point Beach by Wednesday evening.  It was not immediately known how or when the plane was removed.

A reader provided the Register with an eyewitness account of what he considered a suspicious situation.

“I was working at Orchard Beach, three miles west of Vermilion, (Tuesday) afternoon and saw this plane fly by and thought to myself, ‘Why is this bonehead flying so low?’ He was barely telephone-pole high and 100 yards offshore. No wonder he hit a poor little duck.”

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