Plane crash map Find crash sites, wreckage and more

N86078 accident description

Michigan map... Michigan list
Crash location 43.315000°N, 83.705278°W
Nearest city Frankenmuth, MI
43.331691°N, 83.738019°W
2.0 miles away
Tail number N86078
Accident date 03 Jul 2016
Aircraft type Aeronca 11AC
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On July 3, 2016, about 1722 eastern daylight time, an Aeronca Chief 11AC airplane, N86078, impacted terrain near Frankenmuth, Michigan. The pilot and the passenger were fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and the airplane was not on a flight plan. The local flight originated from the William 'Tiny' Zehnder Field Airport (66G), Frankenmuth, Michigan.

A witness, who was located at 66G, said the wind was calm, and the pilot was making touch-and-go landings, departing to the east and then landing to the west. The witness added that he heard the crash and saw smoke east of the airfield.


The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. He held a third-class medical certificate that was issued on May 15, 2016, with the limitation: must have glasses available for near vision. At the time of the medical exam, the pilot reported 600 total flight hours and 0 hours in the previous 6 months. The pilot's most current flight records were not located during the investigation.


The Aeronca Chief 11AC is a high-wing, single-engine airplane with fixed, conventional landing gear and powered by a 65-horsepower, four-cylinder, reciprocating Continental engine and a fixed pitch propeller. The fuselage is mixture of thin aluminum skin and welded steel tubes covered with fabric. The wings are covered with fabric with wood spars.

A review of the airplane's maintenance records revealed the last annual inspection was completed June 12, 2016, with an airplane tachometer time of 553.7 hours and 191.9 hours since engine overhaul. The previous annual inspection was dated June 21, 2015 andlisted a tachometer time of 552.29 hours and a time since engine overhaul of 190.49 hours.


At 1715, the automated weather observation station located at the Saginaw County H W Browne Airport, Saginaw, Michigan, about 10 miles northwest of the accident site, recorded the wind calm, 10 miles visibility, a clear sky, temperature 80°F, dew point 39°F, and an altimeter setting of 30.05 inches of mercury.


66G is a privately owned, open to the public, non-towered airport, located 2 miles southeast of Frankenmuth, Michigan. Pilots are to use the CTAF (Common Traffic Advisory Frequency) for communications. 66G has a single turf runway orientated 09/27 that measures 2,530 ft by 100 ft. The airport is at an elevation of 645 ft.


The on-site examination of the wreckage revealed the airplane impacted terrain about 1/4 mile east of 66G. The wreckage was located in a cornfield with the height of the corn varying between 5 and 7 ft. A postcrash fire consumed a majority of the airplane.

The right wing had extensive thermal damage, and the inboard and outboard sections of the wing displayed heavy impact damage. The left wing also had thermal/fire damage and minor impact damage near the outboard tip. The airplane's cabin was consumed by fire with only the tubular frame remaining; the aft section of the fuselage's fabric was also burnt away, exposing the tubular frame. Other than a piece of fabric that remained on the rudder, the fabric on the empennage was burned away. The elevators were in the down position, and the trim tab was pushed down past its limit. The tailwheel assembly was twisted to one side, and the tailwheel was separated and located under the aft section of the fuselage. The engine and cowling area were thermal and impact damaged. The wooden two-bladed propeller remained attached to the engine, and the outboard sections of both blades were broken off, with a splintered appearance.

Aileron control continuity was established with the exception of the aileron cable's fastener, located behind the cabin area, which was melted by the fire, and the cable at the right aileron bellcrank, which appeared separated by overload. Rudder and elevator control continuity were established from the respective control surface to the control column.

After the initial on-site documentation of the wreckage, the airplane's engine was separated from the airframe and transported to another facility for further examination.

The engine sustained extensive fire damage. When the propeller was rotated by hand, continuity through the valve train and to the accessory section was observed. The carburetor was broken from its intake flange. The oil screen was removed and was found clear of contaminants. The left magneto contained an impulse coupling and would not rotate. Both magnetos had thermal/fire damage.

The top set of sparkplugs were removed. The spark plugs exhibited light colored combustion deposits, and the electrodes exhibited normal signatures.

Although the examination was limited by thermal and fire damage, no pre-impact abnormalities were noted during the airframe or engine examinations.


The Saginaw County Medical Examiner's Office, Saginaw, Michigan, conducted an autopsy on the pilot. The cause of death was determined to be "blunt force chest trauma."

The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, conducted toxicological testing of the pilot's specimens. The specimens were not tested for cyanide. The tests were negative for ethanol and tested drugs.


A personal smartphone was located at the accident site and shipped to the NTSB Vehicle Recorder Lab in Washington, DC, for download and data extraction. A review of photos extracted from the phone revealed six images taken on the day of the accident from the front seat of the airplane that featured the area around the airport. The first image time stamp was 1708:57, and the final image time stamp was 1709:54.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's loss of control for undetermined reasons based on available information.

(c) 2009-2018 Lee C. Baker / Crosswind Software, LLC. For informational purposes only.