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N8945G accident description

Michigan map... Michigan list
Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Ludington, MI
43.955283°N, 86.452583°W
Tail number N8945G
Accident date 26 Mar 1993
Aircraft type Cessna 182N
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On March 26, 1993, at 0130 eastern standard time, a Cessna 182N airplane, N8945G, was destroyed when it collided with trees and terrain during the second of two NDB approaches to the Ludington Airport (LDM), Ludington, Michigan. The private pilot/airplane co-owner received serious injuries, and the sole passenger, his wife, was fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the 14 CFR Part 91 flight, which operated on an IFR flight plan and originated from Flint, Michigan (FNT) at 0003.

The pilot contacted the Lansing Automated Flight Service Station (LAN AFSS) at 1842 to obtain a weather briefing and file flight plans for IFR flights from LDM to FNT and return. LAN AFSS personnel issued a weather briefing and advised the pilot of an AIRMET in effect for "...widespread IFR conditions...across the state...through your entire route of flight right on through tomorrow morning."

The pilot, his wife, and two passengers departed LDM about 1950 on March 25, 1993. The purpose of the flight was to drop off the two passengers in FNT, and return to LDM. The pilot stated the flight to FNT was a routine IFR flight.

The pilot contacted LAN AFSS from Flint for weather updates at 2300, 2314, and 2343. The weather briefer issued several amended forecasts, and advised the pilot that weather conditions in a widespread area that night were even lower than forecast. The pilot requested the forecast for the following morning. The briefer responded "...five am through nine am, seven hundred scattered, two miles visibility with fog...occasional seven hundred broken, visibility one mile with fog...not quite as saturated as this area... ."

The pilot telephoned LAN AFSS again at 2349 to amend his IFR flight plan. He changed his alternate destination to Muskegon, Michigan (MKG), and the fuel on board to 4 1/2 hours. In a postaccident interview, the pilot stated he anticipated they would encounter fog in the Ludington area, and believed he and his wife would end up in MKG that night.

The pilot stated the en route portion of the flight proceeded normally. While en route he was informed about a commuter air carrier which diverted from Manistee, Michigan (located about 40 miles northeast of LDM) due to weather. At 0040, the Minneapolis Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZMP ARTCC) personnel issued Muskegon weather, and added "...if you're thinking you're not going to be able to get into Ludington, just let me know what you want to do." At 0054 the pilot was cleared for the approach to the Ludington Airport.

At 0117, the pilot contacted ZMP ARTCC and told them "...missed at Ludington...we did get...the runway in sight, but couldn't land...we're going to shoot the approach again." ATC issued another approach clearance. At 0124, the pilot reported inbound to the airport. ATC approved a frequency change to the airport advisory frequency. This was the last established contact with the accident aircraft. Excerpts from the ATC package are appended.

The pilot stated he remembered the first approach clearly, but had no recollection of the second approach. One witness, the registered owner of the airplane, lives about 7 miles east northeast of the airport, along the inbound course for the NDB approach. He reported he was awakened by the sound of an airplane engine overhead at 0104. He stated: "By the sound of the engine (low power setting) I thought it was on the approach for LDM. Knowing my friend...was due back from Flint, I got up and looked outside. Very foggy. (The airplane was) back again at about 1:25 am...I thought he missed the 1st one...Aircraft sounded normal in all respects."

Local residents reported they were awakened by engine noise as the airplane flew overhead during the two approaches. One witness stated: "The third time I heard the airplane the sound was different. It sounded like the airplane was running on the ground. After several seconds I heard someone hit the throttle hard and fast. A few seconds later, I heard the airplane hit the trees." The airplane was discovered in a wooded area, about 75 yards west of airport property.


The pilot received serious injuries. The pilot's wife was ejected from the airplane. She and her seat were located about 45 feet forward of the main wreckage. She received fatal injuries.


There was damage to several trees on a residential property adjacent to the airport.


Witnesses reported the weather was extremely foggy when the accident occurred. The poor visibility reportedly hindered search and rescue attempts. One witness stated: "The fog was so thick we couldn't see anything." The owner of the property where the wreckage was located stated: "I went behind the house to the top of the hill and looked down, but did not see the plane because of the fog."

The airport manager's weather observation taken approximately one hour after the accident indicated a ceiling of 200 broken, 700 overcast, visibility 2 1/2 miles with fog, and winds out of the southwest at 3 to 5 knots. Statements, transcripts, and weather data is appended.


The Ludington-Mason County Airport is an uncontrolled general aviation airport, which is attended 0800 to dusk. There is a nondirectional beacon (NDB) located on the airport. The airport has a published NDB approach to Runway 25 (5,000' X 75'). Published straight-in and circling approach minimums for the NDB approach are 1,160 feet MSL (600 feet AGL) and 1 mile visibility. Copies of the airport diagram and instrument approach plate are appended. The NDB was functionally tested (ground and airborne) after the accident and found to be capable of normal operation.


The airplane impacted trees on a wooded residential property located at the west airport boundary. Debris was scattered along a wreckage path which was 280 feet long, and aligned on an average heading of 035 degrees. The initial point of impact occurred on a 75 foot tall tree at a point 60 feet above the ground. The right wing strut was located in the branches of a tree, forty feet above the ground. There were damaged and broken trees and branches throughout the accident site.

The wings, right horizontal tail surface, propeller blades, engine and both front seats separated from the main fuselage during the impact sequence. The main fuselage came to rest 220 feet from the first impact, and was broken open, twisted and bent. The longitudinal axis through the tail and empennage was aligned 020 degrees. The nose section was aligned 100 degrees. The left front seat was located adjacent to the open cockpit, while the right front seat was located about 40 feet north northeast of the main wreckage. The fuel selector indicated "BOTH". Flaps were retracted.

The engine had separated from the airframe, and was located about 8 feet northeast of the nose of the airplane, inverted and leaning against a tree. Both propeller blades separated from the hub. One propeller blade was located 45 feet southeast of the main wreckage, the other was located about 75 feet south of the main wreckage. Both blades exhibited torsional bending and chord-wise scratches.

Postaccident examination revealed no evidence of preimpact structural, flight control, or engine malfunction. Photographs of the wreckage are appended.


The airplane wreckage was released to the registered owner at the completion of the on scene portion of the investigation, on March 27, 1993. Both the pilot of the accident flight and the registered owner stated they share ownership of the airplane, however the pilot of the accident flight is not listed on the registration documents.

NTSB Probable Cause

the pilot's improper instrument procedures. Related factors are the below approach minima weather conditions, fog and dark night.

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