Hatch Plane Crash Preliminary Report Out

Submitted by M-Wolverine on July 6th, 2011 at 12:09 PM

Maybe our pilot contingent can make more out of this than me-




NTSB Identification: CEN11FA417
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, June 24, 2011 in Charlevoix, MI
Aircraft: BEECH A36, registration: N88MN
Injuries: 2 Fatal,1 Serious.


This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On June 24, 2011, approximately 1935 eastern daylight time, a Beech A36 single-engine airplane, N88MN, sustained substantial damage when it impacted terrain and a residential garage while maneuvering near Charlevoix, Michigan. The private pilot and one passenger sustained fatal injuries, and one passenger sustained serious injuries. The airplane was registered to Microjet LLC, Fort Wayne, Indiana, and operated by the pilot. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules flight plan had been filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The flight had departed Smith Field Airport (SMD), Fort Wayne, Indiana, approximately 1730.

According to preliminary air traffic control and witness information, the pilot called on the Charlevoix Municipal Airport (CVX) common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) that he was executing the RNAV global positioning system (GPS) runway 27 instrument approach. Witnesses who were located at CVX reported that the cloud ceiling was 200 feet above ground level and the visibility was 1 mile at the time the pilot called CTAF to report the approach. The witnesses observed the airplane break out of the clouds approximately halfway down runway 27 (4,550 feet by 75 feet). They heard the airplane's engine increase power and observed the airplane enter a left turn, then a turn back to the right around a water tower located southwest of CVX. The airplane stayed approximately 200 feet AGL during the turn around the airport. The airplane then entered a right downwind leg for runway 27. Witnesses observed the airplane begin a right turn toward runway 27, pitch nose up, and then roll to the left. The airplane impacted the yard of a residence adjacent to the north perimeter of CVX. The airplane came to rest upright, partially within a three stall garage attached to the residence.

At 1914, the CVX automated weather observing system (AWOS) reported the wind from 260 degrees at 9 knots, visibility 1 3/4 miles, mist, sky broken at 400 feet, overcast at 700 feet, temperature 11 degrees Celsius, dew point 10 degrees Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 29.71 inches of Mercury.

At 1954, the CVX AWOS reported the wind from 250 degrees at 10 knots, gusting to 14 knots, visibility 2 miles, drizzle, overcast at 200 feet, temperature 11 degrees Celsius, dew point 10 degrees Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 29.72 inches of Mercury.

The accident site showed that the initial ground scar, located approximately 75 feet from the main wreckage, contained the left wing tip fuel tank fairing and pitot tube. The main wreckage consisted of the fuselage, engine, empennage, and both wings. The three-bladed propeller was separated from the engine crankshaft and came to rest adjacent to the main wreckage. Examination of the main wreckage showed the landing gear was extended and the flaps were retracted. Flight control continuity was established from all flight control surfaces to the cockpit.





July 6th, 2011 at 12:16 PM ^

I know nothing about flying, but it sounds like he missed the runway on his first attempt (was too far down), accelerated back out of his descent, tried to turn back around for another approach, and...lost it?

Blue in Seattle

July 6th, 2011 at 2:25 PM ^

and flaps retracted sounds bad.  You need maximum wing surface area to slow down enough to land under control.

landing with the wind behind you also makes it hard, since effectively the air speed over the wing is slower going with the wind than against it.

I'll repeat that I'm not a pilot, and I don't know anything about that type of plane, but if he retracted the flaps after bailing out on the first landing approach, he may have forgotten to extend them on the second approach and made that one even more difficult.

I have flown in small planes like that with friends who are pilots, so my basic information is informed, but could be totally wrong on context.

The whole incident is very tragic.  I can't imagine having that happen at all, let alone twice.



July 6th, 2011 at 12:22 PM ^

Its been a long time since my aero degree... but the last MGoBlog discussion of the crash pointed towards a stall of the wings after an aborted landing.  The description above seems to foot with that theory.  The pilot angled up too far during a turn and was going too slow so the wings lost their lift and the plane came down.  Very similar to the regional turbo prop crash outside Buffalo a short while back.

Heartfelt thoughts to Austin


July 6th, 2011 at 12:27 PM ^

Not lost it. Stalled it. The pitch of the nose was too great for the aircraft's maximum angle of attack. I know very little about aviation but I'm horrified of flying in passenger aircrafts and I've managed to glean this knowledge through tons of fear-based research.

Protip: anybody that is scared of flying like me would do well to read this (massive) thread on 2+2 written by a pilot: http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/34/other-other-topics/ask-me-about-be…

It's meticulous, informative, educational, and very entertaining.

Zone Left

July 6th, 2011 at 12:27 PM ^

Sounds like an approach turn stall. He was so low that even if he recognized the stall, he probably wouldn't have been able to recover.



July 6th, 2011 at 12:32 PM ^

Previous discussion of the preliminary report and the first news articles on the report can be found in this thread.

I still maintain it's premature to be drawing conclusions based on a preliminary report, and I hope people will keep in mind that today is the day of the memorial service for Austin Hatch's father and stepmother.


July 6th, 2011 at 12:52 PM ^

There are two ways to go missed approach when you mess up the initial. First is to power up and go back into the clouds(IMHO the safer way) or you can stay below the clouds maintain sight of the airfield and try to land out of that. There's more risk involved but you don't go back into the clouds which explains it's appeal. 200' AGL is a REALLY low ceiling and makes it hard to maintain a safe airspeed while turning. This is even more true when the flaps are up. Flaps up, low altitude and low airspeed while turning is an exact recipe for a crash if a pilot is rusty.
Former Air Force pilot with about 2000 hours.

Zone Left

July 6th, 2011 at 1:45 PM ^

My thoughts exactly. With the low ceiling and only non-precision approaches available, he probably got sight of the runway and didn't want to lose it, which may be really understandable depending on the exact situation.

Personally, I'll take the ILS to a missed approach followed by a weather divert to Vegas.

True Blue Grit

July 6th, 2011 at 1:00 PM ^

I'm no pilot, but a 200 foot cloud ceiling and 1 mile visibility isn't very good.  Would he have needed to make a 2nd (and fatal as it turned out) approach had the visibility been a lot more typical?  It would seem any time you have to do an instrument landing, it's nail-biting time.  Either way, it's such a tragedy for Austin and the rest of his family/friends.  I hope Austin recovers soon.


July 6th, 2011 at 1:03 PM ^

Pilot here,

It looks like his first mistake was he flew this approach below published minimums. Once he got that low and saw the runway he tried to stay very low and circle to land. The combination of being a few hundred feet above the ground and a probable lack of airspeed likely caused a stall with the associated the loss of altitude and the forced emergency landing. 

As for the previous comment above about Buffalo being similar this is not really the case. That was caused due to a build up of ice on the tail of the plane and overtrimming caused by the autopilot trying to correct it. When the autopilot kicked off due to running out of usable trim the plane lost downward pressure with the tail and noesed down into the ground. At the point the AP kicked off they were probably past the point of correction.

This is an edjucated guess but still just a guess so take it for what its worth...


July 6th, 2011 at 1:32 PM ^

JetBlue pilot here.  You are absolutely correct.  This approach should have never even have been attempted considering the weather was below minimums for the approach.  A 200 ft. ceiling would require an ILS precision approach to break out and see the runway safely, which appears was not available at CVX.  Very unfortunate that the family was placed in this dangerous condition that could have easily been avoided by diverting elsewhere to where the weather was either better or had an ILS approach available.  Very sad.


July 6th, 2011 at 2:17 PM ^

I appreciate the input from the pilots about the conditions at Charlevoix Airport. 

When I first heard of the crash, I checked FlightAware and noticed that this flight had been diverted TO Charlevoix from Boyne City (at the other end of Lake Charlevoix).  The diversion has been mentioned in some news reports, but either without comment or a statement that the diversion had not been explained.  Has anyone read more about why the flight was diverted to Charlevoix in the first place?  If conditions were so bad, why would they divert to that airport?


July 6th, 2011 at 3:44 PM ^

We have a family home in Charlevoix.  My parents spend most of June and July up there.  The plane hit a garage of a house that was two blocks from our house which is about 1/3 mile from the airport.  Just thought that a distance measure would help out with the people who actually know what they're talking about.  By the way, I don't know if they have a website but the Charlevoix Courier published a long article about it including where exactly the plane hit.  Fortunately no one was in the house when it happened.  Hopefully the boy will be OK!!!!


July 6th, 2011 at 3:58 PM ^

The house that had the garage that was hit was a resort home.  The family is from elsewhere.  One of the sons was living there for the summer and thankfully was working in town when this all went down.  As of Monday when I left they still weren't allowed back in the house.  This thing sucks from every angle!

Tim in Huntsville

July 6th, 2011 at 2:23 PM ^

Instrument rated pilot here.  I own and fly a very similar class of airplane, a Cessna 210.

It sounds like he was tempted by the visual ground contact to do a circle-to-land despite the fact that he was below minimums.  Further, the report mentions the flaps were retracted.  In my plane, I would be doing that approach with 10 degrees of flaps but I don't know what the standard procedure is for a Bonanza.  For you non-pilots, flaps provide both lift and drag or, in other words, helps you fly more slowly which would be important on an approach to minimums.

I have been in similar circumstances before but did not follow my temptations but rather flew the published missed approach. My personal minimums would have prevented me from taking this flight; I *may* have filed for Gaylord as it has (or at least had) an ILS which generally gives you guidance to within about 200 feet of the ground.  As a matter of fact, I flew my first 'real' ILS approach, in similar conditions, into Gaylord on the morning they were searching for JFK Jr's plane.  

I highly prefer to fly as it is so much faster..  In fact, it is 3 hrs flat from Huntsville, AL to Ann Arbor.  It is, however, highly unforgiving of poor decisions.   

I hope Austin recovers and joins the Wolverine family (whether he plays or not).



July 6th, 2011 at 3:54 PM ^

... but I beleive you are wrong on the casues Buffalo crash (and by inference I am right :)

The NTSB concluded that ice had no bearing on the incident and attributed the crash to pilot error.  The flight got too slow, the anti-stall system attempted to nose forward and the pilot counterd with stick input (twice I think)... with the nose up and speed down further, the plane went into a full stall and dropped.

I do see analogies to this trajedy.

here is the infallable wikipedia link to the indicent...



July 6th, 2011 at 2:58 PM ^

CFII and ME here

This why you never decend below your MDA or DH. Check your weather first or follow this step.



Set your instruments (this is depends on the aircraft what you have to set)

Tune and identify your radios

Evaluate and brief the approach

He should have got to the weather part and diverted

Very sad, very sad............

To the jetblue pilot think you can help get me a job?


July 6th, 2011 at 3:03 PM ^

To piggy back on some of the comments from the other pilots.......besides the fact he began the approach below mins, another critical mistake was that he stayed below the weather and attempted to remain visual with the airfield instead of executing a missed approach.....

With weather at 200/1, that was well below any published circling minimums.......essentially, the weather would need to have a higher ceiling and/or better visibility in order to remain below the weather and attempt to land...

If the information in the prelim report is accurate, he should have executed a "go around/missed approach" which is a published procedure that requires him to climb on certain headings to certain altitudes within certain DME or (miles) within the airfield or navigation equipment being used for the approach to keep the aircraft safe from known obtacles and terrain....

An easy and common and fatal mistake is to "break out" of the weather, see the ground and attempt to manuever visually to a position to execute a landing........

This comes with experience and requires discipline.  I hate second guessing ANY pilot especially after circumstances like this, but if anyone out there who may be interested in becoming a pilot, remember these incidents.....as we say in the Air Force, our emergency procedures are written in red--from the blood of those who have made mistakes before us....

Fly safe.


July 6th, 2011 at 3:09 PM ^

The flaps being found in the retracted position is not that big of a deal.....especially for smaller aircraft......I flew many approaches with little/no flap extension.....allows me to fly a little faster and to be honest, depending on the plane, I thought it was a little more stable approach many times......

Also, if the pilot did start executing a missed approach, one of the first things he'd do after confirming the gear was up and there was a positive rate of climb, would be to retract the flaps so as to not over speed them.....

So I wouldn't put much into the flap retracted issue......


Having said all that, retracted flaps certainly raises the stall speed and that in and of itself, could have contributed to the accident....


July 6th, 2011 at 5:38 PM ^

A No flap straight in is one thing. No flap circling is quite another. If he had no flaps and tried to pull in a tight turn without flaps at circling airspeeds then he was going to get himself into trouble. Also when I went missed approach flaps went/ got checked to 50% and the raised as I gained safe airspeeds. Just slapping the flaps up can cause stalls as well. Might be different for Vipers, but you might remember that from Tweet/Texan days.

Tim in Huntsville

July 6th, 2011 at 9:16 PM ^

I have also flown many no-flap approaches.  In this case, however, with a 4,550' runway, I would want both the slower speed to make the relatively short runway if conditions allowed it and the extra lift for the climbout on the miss..  I don't know about the Bonanza, but the flap speed is 139 knots and Vy is about 78 knots depending on weight, so there really isn't that much of a chance for overspeeding the flaps (like there is in an F-16).


July 6th, 2011 at 3:33 PM ^

This is pretty sad but when things like this happen all you can do now is pray for the family and use the aviation tragedy as a tool to learn...Again i agree with all the other pilots here, i would never attempt a non precision approach with those reported ceiling and visibility.  Than to try and execute a visual "circle to land" approach while executing a missed approach.  That kind of maneuver would be hard with 2 qualified pilots in the flight deck much less a single pilot operation, not to mention even with 2 pilots that maneuver would be against Federal Aviation regulations.  Its amazing anyone survived. My prayers to the family

Two Hearted Ale

July 6th, 2011 at 5:06 PM ^

I don't know that I am any more qualified than anyone else but since we are throwing qualifications out there I'm a line check airman for a small regional airline. There are a few points I think have to be examined to put an NTSB preliminary report into context.

1) Witnesses reported a 200' ceiling and 1 mile visibility but the automated weather station reported weather significantly higher and probably near the minimums for the attempted approach. I trust the automated system more than I trust "witnesses" who are undoubtedly affected by the situation. The same can be said about the altitude of the aircraft. If a "witness" says it I don't trust the accuracy of the statement.

2) Only the pilot knows what really happened. There is no "black box" in the crashed airplane.

3) An approach to minimums is a taxing maneuver for an experienced airline crew who does it regularly.

4) A circling approach is a high risk maneuver with very small tolerances. The FAA restricts circling maneuvers to at least 1000' for professional airline crews. No such limitation exists for private pilots.

I certainly can't draw a conclusion from what I have read but the reality is it doesn't really matter why the airplane crashed. A young man suffered serious injury and lost his parents. My thoughts go out to everyone affected.

Tim in Huntsville

July 6th, 2011 at 9:06 PM ^

I once had my home airport here in Alabama reporting 200' ceiling on the ASOS when, at the same time, I had the airport in sight from 25 miles out.   There just happened to be a small, low cloud a couple of miles or so from the airport and, apparently, that was the determining the ceiling.   Having an eyewitness in similar situation would probably be more accurate.

I also flew a non-precision VOR approach into Greenville one night after a long flight from Alabama. The forecast was for VFR and I was surprised that GR was reporting 600' overcast.  I was about 560' over the runway at mimimums for that approach, in the dark, in the clouds but with the pulse of the REILs / strobes out the window.   So..  Automated weather reporting isn't quite as good, in my eyes, as actually being there..  I went to Lansing that night and shot the ILS; I never have felt a hotel bed that felt as good as that one in Lansing.

Even though in most cases, the eyewitness would either agree with the automated reporting or would be less accurate, being there gives confirmation as to the conditions.




July 6th, 2011 at 10:01 PM ^

Is just that, preliminary.  As stated by Two Hearted, the report relates the AWOS at two different times but does not state when they shot the approach.  There is a significant difference between the two reports and while I don't know the mins for the approach in question we can't assume it was below that required.  

Remember, there is nothing to prevent a pilot operating under part 91 from shooting the approach even if the weather is reported below mins when he starts the procedure.  He would also have been legal to land had he found actual conditions to be safe for continuation.  The point is, none of us know what he saw and why he decided to circle.  Perhaps he was low on fuel (yes, I know) or perhaps he was concerned with the engine.  Or three hundred and fifty two possible other concerns that made that airport and that circle to land seem like the right thing to do at the time.

99% of all aircraft 'witnesses' report seeing an explosion.  Even when it's found the aircraft went down due to lack of fuel (no fuel sorta makes an explosion somewhat unlikely).  Eyewitness reports just don't carry much weight with accident investigators.

And my biggest concern, while I appreciate the curiosity and would probably continue the discussion if it were taking place in private, is for the poor kid that has now lost both parents. He does not need to hear anyone suggest that the tragedy was avoidable.  He does not need to hear anyone suggest his father was to blame.

Dads are supposed to be revered.  I see nothing to suggest that this young mans father was anything but a hero to his son just as I hope I am to my children.  Even if only for a few short years.  As far as I am concerned, his father did nothing wrong and more probably did a whole lot right.  It was an accident.

I've never met the kid but if by chance he were to one day ask me what happend I'd probably tell him that a whole lot of really bad things happened all in one kids short life time.