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N174BH accident description

Minnesota map... Minnesota list
Crash location 47.057222°N, 91.596666°W
Reported location is a long distance from the NTSB's reported nearest city. This often means that the location has a typo, or is incorrect.
Nearest city Duluth, MN
46.956324°N, 91.856847°W
14.1 miles away
Tail number N174BH
Accident date 08 Jun 2012
Aircraft type Piper PA-31-325
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On June 8, 2012, about 1307 central daylight time, a Piper PA-31-325, N174BH, departed from the South St Paul Municipal Airport-Richard E Fleming Field (SGS), South St Paul, Minnesota for a maintenance test flight. The airplane reportedly had one of its two engines replaced and the pilot was to fly for about 4 hours to break-in the engine. The airplane did not return from the flight and was reported overdue. The airplane is missing and is presumed to have crashed. The airline transport pilot has not been located. The airplane was registered to Family Celebrations LLC, and was operated as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The flight departed SGS with the intention of returning to SGS at the conclusion of the flight.

The airplane was reported missing and an alert notification issued about 2225. The last reported contact with the airplane and pilot was about 1300 when the fixed base operator at SGS towed the airplane to the fuel pumps. When he returned about 15 minutes later, the airplane was no longer there. Aircraft radar track data from various ground based sources indicated that the airplane departed SGS about 1307. The airplane maneuvered east of SGS before turning toward the north. The airplane's track continued north toward Duluth, Minnesota. Once the airplane reached Duluth, it followed the west shoreline of Lake Superior. Radar track data indicated that the airplane was at a pressure altitude of 2,800 feet when it reached the shoreline. The airplane continued along the west shoreline toward Two Harbors, Minnesota, flying over the water while maintaining a distance of about 0.5 miles from the shore. As the airplane approached Two Harbors, it descended. The airplane's last recorded position at 1427 was about 30 miles northeast of Duluth, Minnesota, at an uncorrected pressure altitude of 1,600 feet.

The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center coordinated a search for the missing airplane. The Civil Air Patrol, United States Coast Guard, and other entities participated in the search efforts. Search efforts were suspended on July 4, 2012.


The pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with a single-engine land multiengine land and single-engine seaplane ratings. He was issued a second-class airman medical certificate, with a restriction for corrective lenses, on March 27, 2012.


The airplane was a 1976 Piper model PA-31-325, serial number 31-7612038. The airplane was a six to eight seat, low wing, twin-engine airplane, with a tricycle landing gear configuration. The airplane was constructed predominately of aluminum alloys and was powered by one Lycoming TIO-540-F2BD and one Lycoming LTIO-540 F2BD, each rated to produce 325 horsepower.


Weather conditions recorded by the Duluth International Airport (DLH) Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS), located about 30 miles southwest of the last recorded airplane position, at 1355, were: wind from 220 degrees at 14 knots gusting to 22 knots, visibility 10 miles, few clouds at 4,000 feet above ground level (agl), scattered clouds at 12,000 feet agl, temperature 27 degrees Celsius, dew point 17 degrees Celsius, and altimeter 29.81 inches of mercury.

NTSB Probable Cause

Undetermined because the airplane was not found.

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