Sunday, January 20, 2019

Loss of Control in Flight: Piper PA-18-90 Super Cub, N3298Z; accident occurred January 19, 2019 in Iron Mountain, Dickinson County, Michigan

Photograph of N3298Z Inverted in the Snow.

Photograph Showing the Pilot’s Side of the Inverted Airplane.

Photograph Showing the Passenger’s Side of the Inverted Airplane.

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office;  Grand Rapids, Michigan 

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Iron Mountain, MI
Accident Number: CEN19CA062
Date & Time: 01/19/2019, 1335 EST
Registration: N3298Z
Aircraft: Piper PA 18
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 


On January 19, 2019, about 1315 central standard time, a Piper PA-28 airplane, N3298Z, impacted terrain near Iron Mountain, Michigan. The airline transport-rated pilot sustained minor injuries, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was owned and operated by the pilot as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local flight that originated at Ford Airport, Iron Mountain, Michigan. The pilot reported that he had conducted an uneventful sight-seeing flight and intended to return to the departure airport. He initiated a left turn about 800 ft above a lake and became distracted while focusing on a distant point across the frozen and snow-covered lake. The pilot added that he lost reference to the horizon while continuing in a descending left turn until ground impact.

The pilot reported that there were no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

The departure airport's automated surface observation system, located 6 miles west of the accident site, reported that, about 20 minutes before the accident, winds were from 020º at 5 knots, 10 miles visibility, ceiling overcast at 3,500 ft, temperature -11ºC, dew point -18ºC, and altimeter setting of 30.19 inches of mercury.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's distraction and subsequent loss of situational awareness and visual horizon in overcast sky conditions, which led to an unrecognized descent during a low-level maneuver and subsequent impact with snow-covered terrain.


Personnel issues
Situational awareness - Pilot (Cause)
Attention - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues
Snowy/icy terrain - Contributed to outcome
Clouds - Effect on operation

Factual Information

History of Flight

Maneuvering-low-alt flying
Loss of control in flight (Defining event)

Uncontrolled descent
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Airline Transport
Age: 62, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 09/10/2018
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 01/03/2019
Flight Time:  15196 hours (Total, all aircraft), 1250 hours (Total, this make and model), 14696 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 40 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 15 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N3298Z
Model/Series: PA 18 150
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1959
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 18-7240
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 08/24/2018, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1750 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 3995.64 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Continental
ELT: Installed, activated, did not aid in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: C90-12F
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 90 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KIMT, 1122 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 6 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1254 CST
Direction from Accident Site: 263°
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 3500 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 5 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: /
Wind Direction: 20°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: /
Altimeter Setting: 30.19 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: -11°C / -18°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Iron Mountain Kingsford, MI (IMT)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Iron Mountain Kingsford, MI (IMT)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1315 CST
Type of Airspace: Class E

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Minor
Latitude, Longitude: 45.830000, -87.980000 (est)

The Dickinson County Sheriff's Office 911 Dispatch received a 911 call, on 1-19-19 at 1:47pm, reporting that a Piper PA-18-90 Super Cub had crash landed on Big Fumee Lake in Breitung Township.

The caller advised that they had received a cellphone call from the pilot who was uninjured, walking out to Fumee Lakes Recreational Areas parking lot.

The Dickinson County Sheriff's Office responded to the scene and made contact with the 62 year old male pilot. The pilot was transported out of the recreational area, by Norway Fires all terrain vehicle, to an ambulance for transport to the Dickinson County Memorial Hospital. The pilot was treated for minor injuries and released.

The accident was reported to the Federal Aviation Administration for investigation. The plane currently remains on Big Fumee Lake. The Dickinson County Sheriff's Office requests that the public stay away from the crash site.

The Dickinson County Sheriff's Office was assisted on scene by the Iron Mountain Police Department, Norway Police Department, Michigan State Police, Breitung Township Fire, Norway Fire and Integrity Care Ambulance.

BREITUNG TOWNSHIP, Michigan --   A pilot escaped serious injury when his plane crashed in Dickinson County Saturday.

WLUC-TV says around 1:50 p.m. someone called 911 to report a Piper Super Cub had crash-landed on big Fumee Lake in Breitung Township. The caller said they were contacted by the pilot, who was walking to the lake’s parking lot.

The Dickinson County Sheriff’s Office responded and met up with the 62-year-old pilot. He was taken out of the recreational area via ATV to an ambulance, which transported him to Dickinson County Healthcare System. The pilot was treated for minor injuries and released.

The Federal Aviation Administration has been notified about the accident.

The Sheriff’s Office is asking people to stay away from the crash site.  

Original article can be found here ➤

DICKINSON COUNTY, Michigan — A single-engine plane made what was called a “hard landing” on Fumee Lake near Upper Pine Creek Road.

Rescuers from Norway Fire Department among others responded and were able to assist the pilot who was reported to be “up and talking” at the time.

Both entrances to Fumee Lake were blocked during the rescue, but access has been cleared as of this report.

FOX 17 was in contact with local resident, Jason Asselin, who was able to safely provide pictures and video of the wreckage.

With the mild winter Michigan has experienced, the ice on the lake will be extremely dangerous after an impact such as this. It is not advisable for anyone to go out on the lake at this time.

Original article can be found here ➤


  1. Mr. Asselin, will you be at the accident site during the removal of aircraft? If so, video, please. Thank you, sir!


  2. Hard landing my as. Stall/spin.


  3. Agreed with stall/spin to inverted impact.

    With the cabin smashed in from the top I am surprised this fellow is alive.

  4. Definitely the inertial separators. These people need to go back into the simulator and sweat some bullets.

  5. "With the cabin smashed in from the top I am surprised this fellow is alive."

    He only survived because it was high wing which has more supportive structure overhead obviously to spread out impact crush forces. A low wing likely would have crushed the ceiling into his head and been fatal.