FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WWJ/AP) – A Fort Wayne pilot killed last June in a plane crash diverted from one northern Michigan airport to another because of weather conditions, missed his approach at the second airport, then had two failed attempted landings at a third before crashing into a garage, according to a report by federal safety investigators.
Details of the crash that killed Dr. Stephen Hatch and his wife, Kim, were included in a five-page report of witness statements and pilot and weather information released by the National Transportation Safety Board, The Journal Gazette reported Tuesday. The NTSB is expected to release the cause of the crash within two months.
Hatch, 46, left Fort Wayne’s Smith Field on June 24 headed for the family’s summer home near the town of Boyne Falls, Mich., and planned to land at Boyne City Municipal Airport. While in flight he requested to divert to Boyne Mountain Airport because of weather and because the municipal airport didn’t have an instrument approach, the report issued Thursday said.
Less than a half-hour later, Hatch radioed and said he was executing the missed approach at Boyne Mountain Airport and requested to land at the Charlevoix Municipal Airport. The aircraft missed its instrument landing approach at Charlevoix Municipal Airport, turned around and attempted a second landing on the runway from the opposite direction, according to witness statements collected by the NTSB.
Witnesses told the NTSB the plane started to lose altitude after its second pass over the airport and crashed moments later about a half mile away.
The pilot’s teenage son, Austin, survived the crash. Along with a head injury, he suffered a punctured lung and broken ribs and collarbone.
It was the second plane crash Austin Hatch survived involving his father. Stephen Hatch also was piloting a similar plane in 2003 that crashed in Indiana while was he was returning from the family home near Boyne Falls. His mother and two siblings were killed in the crash. A 2005 federal report found inaccurate preflight planning resulted in the plane not having enough fuel.
Austin Hatch had committed to play basketball at Michigan shortly before the crash in June. He did not play for his high school this season as he recovered from his injuries.
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