Thursday, July 19, 2018

Plane Gone Missing In Michigan Found 21 Years Later

A Howell couple and their plane went missing 21 years ago in the Upper Peninsula. Now it has finally been found in the Hiawatha National Forest.

The Livingston Daily: Discovery of wreckage of Howell couple's plane 21 years later 'answers a lot of questions'

Reading through the article there's a few key items that stand out:

1. The plane was observed flying 20 to 25 miles south then turning 180 degrees before disappearing from the center's radar.
Sounds suspiciously like spatial disorientation.

2. A friend of the pilot said that the pilot normally flew direct GPS and was known to experience vertigo easily.
Sounds even more like the pilot was susceptible to disorientation.

Here's what's worse:

3. Other pilots reported that the weather that day went down to 200 feet overcast.

Reportedly, the pilot was not IFR rated. Going up with a 200 foot overcast ceiling while only being a VFR pilot is a quick way to get yourself and your passengers killed. That's not VFR conditions, that's solid IFR flying in the soup.

This unfortunately sounds like a bad and completely avoidable case of get-there-itis encountering grano-cumulus. Grano-cumulus is the scientific term for when there's a large rock hiding in a cloud, and upon hitting that grano-cumulus, you are very not happy.

This 21-year-old tragedy was most likely completely avoidable pilot error.


MrGarabaldi said...

Hey Aaron;

I hate reading stuff like this, totally preventable accident. Basically the pilots ego overrode his experience level. When you are doing stuff like that Ego has no place in the equation. You did phrase it so well though with the "Get-there-itus and "Grano-cumulus".

jon spencer said...

When flying here in the U.P. there is a whole lot of "nothing" and the "nothing" means forests, so the 21 years of not being found is not that hard to accept.
If your aircraft does not have a EPIRB, at least consider carrying a PLB every time you go up.
Once one of those starts signaling just about anywhere in Michigan is less than 2 hours away from a USCG HH-65 hovering over you.
The signaling of one, is something like wearing a lifejacket. You might not be alive to care. But the searchers care.