Downed by a duck

Minor injuries to pilot, passenger following emergency landing
Andy Ouriel
Jun 12, 2014

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.”


Dwight K.

Hmmm interesting...


Minimum flight altitude in an uncongested area is 500 ft. This fellow can expect to be chatting with the FAA.

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Over water it is to the surface only restriction is when in the vicinity of boats on the water. He was perfectly legal.

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Over other than congested areas. An altitude of 500 feet above the surface, except over open water or sparsely populated areas. In those cases, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure.


They could still slap him with 91.13 Careless or reckless operation.

"No person may operate an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another."

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Highly doubtful as he apparently broke no regulations and that call is generally reserved for an event where an eyewitness account of an actual infraction was either witnessed by the FAA or expert witness/video evidence is offered. Who was he endangering other than the duck? He made an emergency landing off airport which is not illegal either. Bird strikes can and have happened at cruise altitudes in the lower thousands msl. really this was a none event, minimal damage to the aircraft and no injuries or property damage to bystanders. Why do you think this aircraft was being operated in a careless and reckless manner? Site the regulations that were broached.

I'll share a bit of factual knowledge with you, seldom is any flight operation 100% carried out to the letter of the regulations much like your daily drive in your automobile. The regulations the FAA enforce on pilots and flight operations actually allow a pilot to disregard any regulation when the safe operation of the aircraft deems it necessary. You like digging through the regs so look it up. 14 CFR 91.3 - Responsibility and authority of the pilot in command.


How about flying the airplane at 30 feet down the shoreline? Is that really smart? That's the careless and reckless operation. That's the FAA's catch all regulation. Hitting a bird then putting it down on the beach is totally within reason under 91.3 Mr. Smarty pants. It's the part before he hit the duck that could be judged as careless and wreckless. You ask who he was endangering other than the duck? How about his passenger and those who may have been on the beach. It's not like there wasn't a perfectly usable airstrip 3 NM away that he could have turned around and landed on. This kid is supposed to be a professional pilot and he's out pulling this kind of crap. The FAA should seriously consider suspending his license for flying irresponsibly. It's less likely to collide with a duck if you aren't flying 20 feet off the water through a wildlife refuge.

When I fly, every flight I make is within the rules and regulations set forth by the FAA. If you aren't, you should consider surrendering your license. You sound like a dangerous pilot too. Who says "when I fly, I break the rules on every flight." Wow! You are an idiot.

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As an opinion one could say this pilots judgment may be lacking but I maintain that he was within the regulations and not doing anything illegal. What would you have said if he was operating on floats?

"The FAA should seriously consider suspending his license for flying irresponsibly" I don't see where the regs contain that specific language.

To say thats the "catch all regulation" it takes more definition to levy a citation. I'm willing to make a bet with you that he will not be charged with any infraction.

As for flying twenty feet off the water through a wildlife refuge, what do you think we pilots did every time we took off or landed at Sandusky Griffing airport night and day not to mention potential wildlife on the runways.

Could have turned and landed 3 nm away? Were you at the controls? The pilot told authority's on the scene that he was unable to maintain altitude, there was slight damage to the vertical stab which was promoting some vibration. I've seen the photographs of the aircraft the wind screen was totally gone disrupting the flow of air over the aircraft. The cockpit was full of feathers and blood plus both the pilot and passenger sustained minor injuries. I think this young pilot made the right call landing on the beach under these circumstances and saved the aircraft. Had the beach been occupied by people I'm sure he would have elected a water landing.

" This kid is supposed to be a professional pilot and he's out pulling this kind of crap" ????? who say's he is a professional pilot? I don't know him personally but I'm guessing by his operation that he is either a sport recreational or private pilot.

With over forty years experience and more hours of flying than you have probably been walking without incident I am by no means an idiot or a poor pilot.

I bet if I was your check pilot I could site several infractions every time you fly minor as they may be they still are outside the regulations. I don't think any pilot I've ever met or flown with would argue with that.

Have you ever gone to a fly-in breakfast and made a low high speed pass down the runway for the crowds photo opp? Were you reckless and careless in the operation of that aircraft? Some in the crowd may have felt so. Ever flown formation with another aircraft that you really did not know the experience level of the other pilot even that you were in communication?

Don't let your ego get in the way of becoming a good pilot, keep reading the incident reports and learn from others mistakes and maybe you may avoid being a statistic yourself.


No I've never done low fly bys nor have I flown in formation with someone whom I didn't know. You sound like a wreckless pilot and you're lucky to be alive after all those years. As a check airman, you're supposed to be setting the example, but clearly, if you're alluding to that you're a wreckless pilot on a silly online forum, you are a dangerous person. You should surrender your pilot's license to the nearest FSDO.

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My my misspelled reckless, it is not wreckless try using that link you gave me.


Duck: downed by a plane.


Eider way, was lucky no one was hurt.



Pretty expensive duck dinner. On the other hand, he'll be eating crow when he visits with the FAA.


Are we living a comic variation of "Ground Hog Day" and "Under the Dome" where we're destined to experience bone headed events over and over again?




The drop in altitude can be attributed to taking selfies in flight for his profile pic on Facebook.

Really are you ...

He was almost a duck in water. Lol. But seriously, radar evasion. Only seen it in tv.

BigBoyMichigan's picture

Is Cedar Point Cursed? All in the SAME WEEK:
1) Cedar Point closed for Friday, Saturday, Sunday due to a Water Main Break.
2) 16 Cedar Point Employees cause a Riot and all end up in Jail with a 5-Degree Felony charges against them.
3) A Plane flies dangerous low to Cedar Point Amusement Park (200 Feet) while some of the Amusement Park rides are 310 Feet off the ground with people on them and had to make an Emergency landing on Cedar Point Amusement Park's Beach. What was this guy thinking? Especially when Daffy Duck flew in for a peek, lol.

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"3) A Plane flies dangerous low to Cedar Point Amusement Park (200 Feet) while some of the Amusement Park rides are 310 Feet off the ground with people on them and had to make an Emergency landing on Cedar Point Amusement Park's Beach. What was this guy thinking? Especially when Daffy Duck flew in for a peek, lol. "

The report is somewhat misleading in that it states that he was flying 200 feet off the "ground" when actually it was over the water which is legal as long as he maintains separation of at least 500 feet horizontally and vertically from any vessels or persons on the water. Not to say it is advisable as demonstrated it has inherent risks associated with low level flight. He posed no danger to the rides or people on them, but he is lucky this early in the season the beach is not crowded and the para-sail guys are not towing patrons. Reckless perhaps illegal not per say. All said not a bad piece of flying getting it on the beach with no additional damage other than the duck strike which incidentally can happen even at higher altitudes.


Careless and reckless, there you go you admitted it.

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No....I said he used bad judgment and suffered the consequences of the inherent risk associated with that type of low level flying. I hope you don't live in a glass house.....


You said "Reckless perhaps illegal not per say." I think you need to check your reading comprehension.

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@ OSU also curious where you get the information that he was 20 feet off the water?

"The Ohio State Highway Patrol determined the pilot, Eric Ryba of Huron, was flying the plane 1,000 feet off-shore at an altitude of about 200 feet when he struck an airborne duck shortly after 4:00 p.m. The impact shattered the windshield.

After the impact, with air rushing into the cockpit, the airplane lost its ability to climb. Ryba was forced to make an emergency landing on the beach near Magnum XL-200.

No one was on that section of the beach at the time. Both Ryba and his passenger, David Carratola of Milan, suffered minor injuries."

You need better reading comprehension if your going to pass your written.


In the article, which you failed to read, a Register reader said,
“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.”

Also, if you're going to talk to me about reading comprehension, you better check your grammar. It's you're, not your. If you click on this link, it may help your grammar, but probably not.

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Have you ever looked of shore at something and tried to gauge its height with nothing to compare the object that you are looking at? This is why the eyewitness account was not even considered. The article states that the Highway Patrol who investigated the incident determined that the plane was 200 ft 100 yards of shore. So I guess you like to read a lot into the story.

A very good friend of mine, my mentor and one time flight instructor once told me that he would never fly with a pilot that had not at one time or another scared himself in an airplane because a pilot who hasn't has never learned their own limitations and is inherently dangerous. You might recognize his name Bob Hoover. I suppose you think he's an idiot also? Having flown airshow performances myself under waiver I know my capability as a pilot.

You seem to be rather sharp tongued for a fledgling pilot, something that will not serve you well in your career. And your ego needs to be checked as well.

After looking into the pilots background I see that he has been working for a freight outfit so I'm guessing this is what is sticking in your craw. You probably know him, may be about the same age, might have even flown out of the same place during primary training and it bothers you that he has landed a job flying. How am I doing so far? With your ego and self sense of worth you are a tad jealous and would really like to see him brought down. It bothers you that the feds don't look at this the same way that you do so you keep clicking back to fifth page news to continue to blog with me. But I don't side with you either so you try to insult me. But I find it very entertaining so feel free to carry on, I can almost hear you whining as I read your comments.


Fledgling pilot? You’re making a lot of assumptions here! First, you’re assuming that I’m jealous that you and he are professional pilots. I’m not. Second, if I wanted to still live with my parents, then I’d be a professional pilot. Third, I could teach a monkey how to fly an airplane, I have better career options than being a freight pilot; career options that require me to have a sharp tongue. Don’t quit your day job buddy!

So you flew with Bob Hoover once and now you’re both best buds!? LMAO!!! That’s too funny! Sorry, I don’t care. Bob Hoover is a great pilot, I admire him more than Chuck Yeager. I’ve heard Chuck Yeager is a jerk (maybe you guys would click better) but I have meaningful mentors in my life, not just a famous pilot that took me up for an airplane ride. I bet you go around telling that to every pilot, but you fail to realize that no one cares.

I barely know Mr. Ryba but I would hope that any professional pilot, not pull the kind of crap flying that he did. I think the public would agree with me over you. Taking unnecessary risks for a thrill is not professional. Especially in the state General Aviation is. We don't need any kind of negative press, and this was entirely avoidable. In my unprofessional flying, I’d never do that (guess that makes me a bad pilot according to you huh?). Seems like it may be different when it’s not your airplane.

This is entertaining for me too BTW. It's not everyday that you run into another pilot on the Register.

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The sharper the tongue the more entertaining you become. As to my relationship with Mr. Hoover I can assure you it goes way beyond a chance meeting or a "ride" in an aircraft. As a matter of fact we still stay in touch and see each other as often as our schedules allow. I plan on sharing a print out of this thread with him as I'm sure he will get a good chuckle out of it. You see for pilots of our distinction and credibility we often run into those like yourself which we describe as modock or kee-wees, not that I would expect you to understand the reference.

I don't know of any job that your demeanor and sharp tongue would serve you well other than being a comedian. My career has treated me just fine thank you, I've seen the world and meet the finest and have a life time of memories you could only imagine.

If I was you I'd stick to flying your Microsoft flight simulator as it's probably the closest thing to a real airplane you will ever fly.


Once again, you're making a lot of assumptions about me through your juvenile insults. You're not even close, it's hilarious for me to keep going back and forth too! You don't even hit the target, you're way off!

As for your reference, it wasn't too hard to figure that out with this thing called the internet. It looks like you're the proud member of a dying aviator club that is racist and sexist! That is so admirable! Well, maybe to disgusting old white men, but the rest of the country probably wouldn't hold such a club in distinction. Anyway, I'm not a keewee/modock because I am a licensed pilot, and honestly I really don't care about you or your status. It sounds like your little racist/sexist club is dying, so I really don't care if I'm a part of your dumb club. It's losing its relevancy today, and it certainly won't be relevant tomorrow.

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Ohh by the way you may note a typo It's off shore, not of shore. Feel free to check any other grammar mistakes and thanks for the link!


You incorrectly spelt "ohh." That's one "h" too many.

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LMAO I knew I called that correctly! Your not a pilot even that you lied and tried to promote yourself as one to make your points on things of which you had no experience or direct knowledge. The fact is you wouldn't make a pimple on an aviators azz ( spelled this way on purpose)You really should change your screen name as it is admittedly bogus. How disgusting that you have to live in a make believe world trying to pass for something that your not just to falsely bolster your self ego. Now that you have outed yourself don't you feel just a little bit silly? Talk about juvenile you have that market cornered. As for my association of pilots of distinction both military and commercial your not good enough to shine our flight boots so run along sonny!


What are you talking about? You don't make any sense! I hold a commercial pilot certificate and I'm also a CFI. I'm an aircraft owner as well (a pretty young one at that). Your whole slanderous argument is based on nothing. You deny reality, you should be put on some heavy medication, and also surrender your medical certificate because you can't think clearly. Who wears flight boots while flying a Cessna anyway? Plus the new boots don't need to be shined old man, the military went away from that a long time ago. I'll let you have the last word; I'm bored of having this nonsense argument with you.

You also incorrected used "your" again.

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This is so rich! LOL, the guys are going to love reading this at the next meeting! Having a licenses with wet ink still does not make you a pilot kid, you are still a keewee. Learn a little respect and be a little more humble and you may be able to redeem yourself in the biz.

But most off all I wish you fair winds and a good long life, "your" hearts in the right place. Stay clear of ME's with big thumbs ;)


Once again you are wrong. I've been licensed for over 12 years now. I don't know if I'd show this to the good ole boys, you haven't got anything right about me yet.

Anyway, fly safe and don't go west too soon.

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Thought I had the last word? 12 years you say? Heck I've got socks older than that keewee James.