NTSB Identification: CEN17WA133
Accident occurred Wednesday, March 15, 2017 in Manitouwadge, Canada
Aircraft: CESSNA 172P, registration: N230TX
The foreign authority was the source of this information.
On March 15, 2017, at an unknown time, a Cessna 172P airplane, N230TX, owned and operated by the University of Michigan Flyers Inc. was substantially damaged when it collided with wooded terrain near Manitouwadge, Ontario, Canada. No pilot or occupant was found in the wreckage. The flight originated from the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport, near Ann Arbor, Michigan, about 1912 eastern daylight time and was destined for the Harbor Springs Airport, near Harbor Springs, Michigan.
The accident investigation is under the jurisdiction and control of the Canadian Transportation Safety Board. This report is for informational purposes only and contains only information released by or obtained from the Canadian government. Further information pertaining to this accident may be obtained from:
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
200 Promenade du Portage,
Place du Centre, 4th Floor
Gatineau, Quebec K1A 1K8
Occurrence Number: A17O0045
OTTAWA—The military search-and-rescue technicians dropped in on a mystery.
A light plane had crashed in the woods in northern Ontario and an air force Hercules transport and Griffon helicopter were dispatched from Trenton to search for survivors.
They located the crash site and two rescuers dropped by parachute to the scene. It’s what they didn’t find that has left authorities on both sides of the border scratching their heads.
There was no pilot in the wreckage, nor any indication that anyone had walked away.
“Aircraft was devoid of any occupant or any trace of an occupant prior to impact; no footprints in snow,” read a preliminary report by Transport Canada.
The plane, a Cessna 172, had departed Ann Arbor, Mich., bound for Harbor Springs, about 370 kilometres north, just after 7 p.m. on March 15.
But the plane overflew its destination and continued north, flying another 380 kilometres over the eastern end of Lake Superior before crashing east of Marathon, Ont., just before midnight.
That’s where military rescuers found it the following day. “They conducted a search of the immediate area and there was nothing to suggest that anybody walked away from the wreckage,” said Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Peter Leon.
The next day, the OPP flew in its own team to search the crash site and they too came up empty, Leon told the Star.
“It is rather unique,” Leon said. “We’ve had a number of tragedies involving aircraft. Usually when they find the aircraft, they find the pilot or the occupants.”
Investigators with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada also went to the scene to survey the wreckage.
The plane crash has now become a missing persons case, although authorities aren’t holding out much hope they will find the pilot alive.
Police believe that at some point during the flight, the pilot, a 27-year-old PhD student at the University of Michigan, jumped from the plane, leaving it to fly unattended until it crashed.
“The feeling right now is at some point during the flight, the pilot more than likely left the confines of that aircraft. Whereabouts? We have no idea,” Leon said.
“It is entirely possible that the pilot could have exited the plane at any point,” he said.
The Transport Canada report pointedly noted that, “the pilot was not a parachutist or does not own a parachute.”
The pilot was seen on the morning of March 15. Later that day, he rented the Cessna at Ann Arbor Airport, according to Diane Brown, a spokeswoman for the University of Michigan police department.
“University police have reasons to believe his actions likely were an act of self-harm,” Brown said in a statement.
“Out of respect for his family, classmates and colleagues, we won’t have additional information to release on the investigation,” she said.
The search has been put on hold but Leon said that police are hoping someone may find something. “We’ll obviously do whatever we can to try to locate the whereabouts of that pilot and follow up on any information that is received,” Leon said.
The 27-year-old Michigan pilot and academic believed to have rented the small plane that crashed without any occupants last week near Manitouwadge was likely intending to his end his life when he took off, University of Michigan police confirmed Wednesday.
“Police have reasons to believe his actions likely were an act of self-harm,” a University of Michigan news release said.
Police said the pilot was Ann Arbor, Mich. resident Xin Rong, 27, a Ph.D. candidate in the university’s school of information.
Rong, who was last seen on the morning of March 15, is believed to have rented a Cessna 172 aircraft later that day from the University of Michigan Flyers club.
Police have suspended an air and ground search for Rong, the release said. His body has not been found.
Rong described himself on his website as an award-winning researcher in the field of “human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence (and) natural language processing.”
University police did not elaborate on why it believes Rong was feeling suicidal.
“Out of respect for his family, classmates and colleagues, we won't have additional information to release,” said the news release.
According to a Transportation Safety Board of Canada investigation, the Cessna 172 Rong rented crashed on the night of March 15 about 25 kilometres southeast of Manitouwadge.
No traces of a pilot or passengers were found at the remote scene. Investigators said the plane didn’t land anywhere before it crashed, and had travelled 770 kilometres by the time it descended unoccupied into the woods.
“When (Rong) exited, and how (Rong) exited, is still a mystery,” said one board investigator who inspected the crash site.
Investigators believe the plane was flying on auto-pilot and ran out of fuel just prior to crashing.
It departed Ann Arbor airport, near Detroit, about 7 p.m. on March 15 and was bound for Harbour Springs in the northern part of Michigan.
ANN ARBOR, MI - Police have identified a missing University of Michigan student who rented a small plane that crashed in Canada last week.
School of Information doctoral candidate Xin Rong, 27, was last seen on the morning of March 15, said Diane Brown, spokeswoman for the University of Michigan Division of Public Safety and Security.
He rented a plane from the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport the same day, and it's believed to have crashed late that night, about 11:38 p.m. in Ontario, Canada, about 37.3 miles east of the town of Marathon. Marathon appears to be about 463 miles northwest of Ann Arbor by air.
A wrecked plane in Ontario, Canada, is connected to a missing University of Michigan student, police say.
Officials do not believe Rong was aboard the plane at the time of the crash and university police believe his actions were likely an act of self-harm. Air and ground searches for him have since been suspended, Brown said.
Sgt. Peter Leon, media coordinator for Ontario Provincial Police, has said there's nothing to indicate that the plane's pilot is alive.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is investigating the crash and a liaison from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board is working with Canadian authorities, said Chris Krepski, a spokesman for the Canadian board.
The university division declined to release further information.