Aircraft: Piper Cherokee Six. Injuries: 2 Fatal. Location: St. Ignace, Mich. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The pilot took off from an airport on the mainland with the intention to drop a passenger off on an island located about five miles off shore.
No IFR flight plan was filed although instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at both the departure and destination airports around the time of the accident in the form of rain and fog.
The pilot did not land on the island, but instead headed back to the departure airport with the passenger still on board. The airplane crashed in trees on the shoreline approximately 1.4 miles north of the departure airport.
Investigators speculated that the pilot was most likely attempting to follow the shoreline back to the airport.
No pre-accident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airplane were identified that would have precluded normal operation.
Probable cause: The pilot’s decision to initiate visual flight in instrument meteorological conditions and subsequent failure to maintain adequate altitude.
NTSB Identification: CEN12FA097
This December 2011 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.