Plane in river

2009 — Former Astoria Mayor Edith Henningsgaard Miller and her son, pilot Bill Henningsgaard, a retired Microsoft executive from Seattle, stand on the wing of the single-engine turboprop Epic LT aircraft that crashed into the Columbia River. A crew from Foss Maritime was able to pull alongside the aircraft and bring them aboard.

10 years ago this week — 2009

Friday afternoon’s plane trip to Seattle turned into a nightmare for former Astoria Mayor Edith Henningsgaard Miller when the plane, piloted by her son, Bill Henningsgaard, had to crash-land in the Columbia River.

But the nightmare had a happy ending. They were quickly rescued and had only very minor injuries.

Henningsgaard Miller recounted the ordeal the next day. “We had just crossed over the hills in Washington, when I said, ‘I didn’t notice this valley before and all these houses.’”

Although she hadn’t realized it, the plane’s single engine had suddenly stopped.

“He said ‘This is an emergency,’ and I didn’t say anything else,” she said.

They were three-quarters of the way back to the Astoria Regional Airport in Warrenton when Bill told his mother, “We’re not going to make it,” and began gliding down toward the river where he put the plane down.

At least 182 residents and visitors, along with 272 students, headed for the hills Friday east of Seaside, and it was a lifesaving experience.

Despite the blast coming from six sirens heralding an emergency tsunami drill, most people went about their daily business.

50 years ago — 1969

A State Highway Department official said today traffic on the Astoria Bridge across the Columbia is running about 70 vehicles per day behind what was expected for 1969.

Tom Edwards, assistant highway engineer, said from Salem that much of the low figure should be blamed on the series of snow storms around the first of the year. Some loss has come, also, from unfavorable weather at times when sports fishing would have been active.

Chuck Miles of Cannon Beach will be Astoria’s representative at San Francisco’s first Crab Cooking Olympics May 19 and 20. Miles’ expenses will be paid by Warrenton and Hammond fishermen and processors.

Reopening an historic chapter of the Columbia River’s past, the Coast Guard will christen Cape Disappointment’s 52-foot motor lifeboat Triumph II in ceremonies May 3 in Ilwaco.

The 52-footer is named for the Triumph, a wooden-hulled rescue boat of the same size lost at the Columbia River bar Jan. 12, 1961, carrying five crewmen to their deaths. The Triumph, and two other Coast Guard boats, capsized in an attempt to save two fishermen aboard the 40-foot crab fishing vessel Mermaid, in distress near Peacock Spit.

Astoria City Councilman Bill Wilson has an idea for the heavy demands continually made on the city treasury.

At a recent city budget session, he suggested a way to cut down future budgets: put The Pill in the city drinking water, to control population growth.

The budget committee took no action on the suggestion, which did not appear to be altogether serious.

The bill to keep the ocean beaches open for the public went through the House in Salem today with hardly a murmur — in sharp contrast to the emotional fight touched off two years ago.

75 years ago — 1944

Wayne L. Morse, Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, repeated and affirmed his nationally known declarations of government by law in contrast to rule by executive fiat before a large Astoria chamber of Commerce forum luncheon today at Amato’s supper club.

“It is my judgment that America now and immediately after the war is faced with the problem of solving the most critical issue which has faced here since the Revolutionary war, and that is the issue of executive government versus representative government.”

Astoria today was named as one of 20 new cities which United Air Lines proposes to add to its coast-to-coast and Pacific coast airway network.

In an application filed with the civil aeronautics board at Washington, United asked that Astoria be connected on a feeder line with Pendleton and Portland on the company’s mid-continent transcontinental route.

C.J. Simpson, Northwest manager of the national labor bureau, today disclosed members of fishermen’s unions which the bureau represents refuse to travel to Alaskan salmon fishing grounds aboard Liberty ships “with a history of cracking open in Alaskan waters.”

The Columbia River fishing industry this week opened a campaign to enlist services of women, with emphasis on service men’s wives, for part-time employment in canneries to handle salmon and to work in cold storage operation, on filleting lines, packaging, wrapping and crab packing.

Emphasizing the importance to the war effort of producing as much food fish as possible, the industry set the keynote. “Fish production is limited to the volume that may be processed.”

The government is taking more than 50 percent of the Columbia River salmon pack, directly for war purposes; and other government purchasing divisions are taking huge quantities of fillet and frozen fish.

Bob Duke is the author of the weekly Water Under the Bridge column in The Astorian. Contact him at

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