Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Luscombe 8F, N2007B: Fatal accident occurred March 19, 2017 at Thrall Lake Airport ((7MI3), Vicksburg, Kalamazoo County, Michigan

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Grand Rapids, Michigan

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf


NTSB Identification: CEN17LA135
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, March 19, 2017 in Vicksburg, MI
Aircraft: LUSCOMBE 8F, registration: N2007B
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On March 20, 2017, about 1844 central daylight time (CDT), a Luscombe 8F, N2007B, experienced a propeller blade strike during an attempted hand prop of the engine at Thrall Lake Airport (7MI3), Vicksburg, Michigan. The airplane did not sustain substantial damage. The commercial-rated pilot, and intended sole occupant, was fatally injured. The airplane was privately registered, and was being operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, and no instrument flight rules flight plan was filed.

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email eyewitnessreport@ntsb.gov, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email assistance@ntsb.gov.

Michael A. "Mike, Gilligan" Westveer 

Westveer, Michael A. "Mike" "Gilligan" Passed away Monday, March 20, 2017, unexpectedly at the age of 52. Mike was born May 26, 1964 in Kalamazoo to Gerald and Darlene (Hoskins) Westveer. On March 1, 2008 Mike was united in marriage to Denise Richmond, who survives. Mike was a graduate of Portage Central High School and served his country in the United States Navy. He was an avid aviator who loved vintage aircraft and everything aviation related. He proudly earned his pilot's license before his driver's license. He spent many years flying hot air balloons for the Michigan Balloon Corporation. He was a licensed aircraft mechanic and owner of MW Aviation Inc. who specialized in vintage aircraft restoration. He enjoyed ANY time spent in the air. He also loved the Caribbean and he and Denise enjoyed their annual trips there each year. Mike is survived by his wife, Denise Westveer; mother, Darlene Westveer: siblings, Steve (Pam) Westveer and Sally (Gary) Browne; In-laws, Phil and Sherry Richmond and several aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins as well as his longtime friend and mentor, Ron Centers. Mike was preceded in death by his father; Gerald. A celebration of life gathering for family and friends will take place Tuesday, March 28 from 4-7pm at Barn Brewers Brewery, 114 N. Main Street, Lawton MI 49065. Arrangements by Langeland Family Homes: Westside Chapel. In lieu of flowers, memorials in Mike's name may be directed to a charity of your choice . For obituary and condolences, please see Mike's personalized page at www.langelands.com

- See more at: http://obits.mlive.com

Michael Westveer

VICKSBURG, MI -- The pilot who was tragically killed Monday while trying to start the engine of a small aircraft was known in the local flying community for the work he did on aircraft and as a balloon pilot.

Michael Westveer, 52, of Vicksburg, was killed on March 20, apparently as he tried to hand crank an airplane propeller and was struck on the head by it, Kalamazoo County Sheriff's deputies say.

"He was a hell of a pilot," said Ron Centers, owner of Michigan Balloon Corp., a commercial hot air balloon service. "No matter what he flew, it was like he was born in that aircraft."

Westveer had a commercial balloon pilot's license and had been flying hot air balloons with Centers since Westveer was about 18 years old.

"He was a great guy with a great sense of humor," Centers said. "He would do anything for you and if you needed him, he would be there for you. I can't say enough about him."

Westveer piloted lots of hot air balloon trips as a full-time and then part-time pilot for Michigan Balloon Corp.

More than 10 years ago, he represented the company by flying a balloon for several years in the Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show & Balloon Festival.

"He was a happy-go-lucky, jovial, joking, laugh-a-lot guy," said Maurice Hovious, owner of Hov-Aire Inc., an aircraft repair and restoration specialist.

For the past 20 years, Westveer worked as a supervisor at Vicksburg-based Hov-Aire, which specializes in the repair of the Piper Malibu, a small airplane that is still in production, and the Ford Tri-motor, the venerable aircraft that are considered the first to be widely used to fly passengers. Henry Ford built only 199 between 1926 and 1933.

Hovious said Westveer was presently the lead on the restoration of a Ford Tri-motor owned by a Florida man. It is a project that Hov-Aire began in 1992 after the plane was damaged by Hurricane Andrew in south Florida. The project is now about 90 percent complete after requiring about 35,000 man hours of labor, he said.

Westveer was a veteran of the U.S. Navy but did not learn how to fly an airplane until after he was discharged, Hovious said. He was also known to have or be working to attain a license to pilot helicopters.

Hovious said Westveer was apparently preparing to fly a small, single-engine Luscombe plane owned by another Hov-Aire worker on Monday when he was killed. Hovious said Westveer had free use of the plane and had flown it for more than 15 years.

Westveer was apparently preparing to take off from a small grass air strip owned by Hovious and two other individuals when the mishap occurred. The air strip is in the 6000 block of East W Avenue in Brady Township, about a mile from Vicksburg.

Hovious said hand-cranking the propeller of the aircraft was the only way to start it.

Kalamazoo County Undersheriff Pali Matyas said investigators believe Westveer's mishap occurred not long after 11 a.m. Monday. That is when he was last in contact via telephone with friends. He was found near the plane at about 6:45 p.m. that day after he failed to meet with a friend earlier in the afternoon. A concerned friend traveled to the air strip and found him.

Westveer was married and had a brother and a sister, all of whom survive him. There was no word on funeral arrangements or memorials.

Hovious and Centers said Westveer will be missed.

Centers said he will miss him "like I would miss my left arm. And I'm left handed. He was a very good friend."

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