Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Maintenance Test Flight: Aero Commander 200D, N200HS; fatal accident occurred August 20, 2019 at Livingston County Spencer J. Hardy Airport (KOZW), Howell, Michigan

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Detroit, Michigan 
Continental Aircraft Engines; Mobile, Alabama 

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


Location: Howell, MI
Accident Number: CEN19FA279
Date & Time: 08/20/2019, 1118 EDT
Registration: N200HS
Aircraft: Aero Commander 200
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On August 20, 2019, about 1118 eastern daylight time, an Aero Commander (Meyers) 200D airplane, N200HS, impacted terrain shortly after departing the Livingston County Spencer J Hardy Airport (OZW), Howell, Michigan. The pilot and pilot rated passenger received fatal injuries and the airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to Southern Aircraft Consultancy, Inc, Trustee, Norfolk, United Kingdom, and operated by a private individual. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 maintenance test flight.

According to initial reports, the airplane had recently undergone maintenance, including the installation of a new field overhauled engine and a 3-bladed propeller. The purpose of the flight was for a maintenance test flight for the airplane. The pilot-rated passenger, seated in the right seat, was also a mechanic who had performed the recent work on the airplane. The pilot, seated in the left seat, owned a similar airplane make and model.

The airplane was flown earlier in the day. The airplane was then fueled with 34.4 gallons of fuel. It is unknown if any adjustments or maintenance items were accomplished before the second flight.

Witnesses reported that the airplane departed runway 13 at OZW; they added that when the airplane was about 200 to 300 ft in the air, the airplane appeared to stop its climb and was silent. One witness reported that it looked like the airplane tried to turn back to the runway, before entering a rapid decent.

The airplane impacted terrain and came to rest about 600 ft beyond the departure end of the runway. The responding Federal Aviation Administration inspector, the NTSB Investigator-in-Charge, and a technical representative from the engine manufacturer examined the airplane wreckage on site. The examination found the engine air filter element was displaced and in the engine intake tube (see figures 1 and 2).

Figure 1: Air intake

Figure 2: Air intake and air filter element 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Aero Commander
Registration: N200HS
Model/Series: 200 D
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
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: KOZW
Observation Time: 1139 EDT
Distance from Accident Site:
Temperature/Dew Point: 28°C / 21°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 8500 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 6 knots / , 140°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.06 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Howell, MI (KOZW)
Destination: Howell, MI (KOZW)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 42.624722, -83.973333

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. 

Philip Colmer

A shining star, a smiling face, a friend to all, and a connoisseur of everything that defines happy life, Philip “Flip” Colmer, age 64, unexpectedly left this earth for his final flight west on 20 August, 2019. Flip, born 3 May, 1955, grew up to find joy in the pursuit of high adventure. He enjoyed travel, skydiving, and flying the most. An aviator by profession, he was commissioned an Officer in the U.S. Navy in 1978 and earned his Gold Navy Pilot Wings a few years later. He served in the Active ranks and Reserves as a carrier pilot, flying the A-7E Corsair and FA-18C Hornet jets before retiring from the Reserves in 1998 with the rank of Lieutenant Commander. In 1989, after leaving active duty, he joined Northwest Airlines, which became part of Delta in 2008. Over his 30 year airline career, he rose to the rank of Captain on the Boeing 767.

On 26 August, 1994, he married Rebecca Sharp, his best friend, fellow skydiver, and beloved travel companion for the remainder of his life. When not exploring the larger world with his wife, he enjoyed brewing his own beer and even dabbled with competitive aerobatic flying. Outside of flying, he was involved in many charitable projects, his favorite as a key team member of Project Recover expeditions to the Pacific to find and repatriate the remains of missing American servicemen from World War II. Philip “Flip” Colmer is preceded in death by his parents, Malcolm and Marjorie (Fleiss) Colmer.

He is survived by his wife, Rebecca Sharp, his two sisters, Barbara Colmer (Kooper, NY) and Amy Ream (Portland, OR), his sister-in-law, Samara Anjelae (Berea, KY), and his two brothers-in-law, Michael and Lew Sharp (Lexington & Paris, KY).

A Memorial Service will be held Sunday, August 25, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. at Staffan-Mitchell Funeral Home, Chelsea, MI, with  visitation from 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to Project Recover or Ann Arbor Fisher House Michigan.


James Tafralian
April 10th, 1951 - August 20th, 2019

James passed away at the age of 68 on August 20, 2019.  Beloved and proud father of Michigan State Trooper Frank (fiancĂ© Katherine). Loving brother of Michael, Diane, Nancy and Karen.  Dear son of the late Arthur and the late Gladys. James will also be missed by the Tafralian, Karakashian, Mahakian & Melikian families, the Sky Diving & Aviation Communities and all that knew him. Visitation Wednesday 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. with a 7:30 p.m. Prayer Service at St. Johns Armenian Church, 22001 Northwestern Highway, Southfield.  In state Thursday 10 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. funeral service at church.  In lieu of flower memorial donations to www.skydivingmuseum.org or Fallen Trooper Memorial Fund – which is its own entity within MSTAF dedicated to the upkeep of the memorial at the Training Academy (Check can be made to MSTAF – FTM and mailed to the MSPTA, 1715 Abbey Road, Suite B, East Lansing, MI 48823.


One of the men killed when a plane crashed Tuesday near Howell will be laid to rest this weekend.

A memorial service for 64-year-old Philip Colmer is set Sunday at 2pm at the Staffan-Mitchell Funeral Home in Chelsea. Colmer, along with 68-year-old James Tafralian, were killed when the Aero Commander 200D they were in crashed after trying to take off from the Spencer J. Hardy Airport in Howell Township. 

The National Transportation Safety Board is conducting the investigation into the cause of the crash, which could take a year or more to complete. However, eyewitnesses reported that the plane appeared to lose power, bank hard to the left, and then crash nose-first into a field at the end of the runway. 

Colmer, who was known to friends as Flip, was a former Navy pilot who went on to fly the Boeing 767 with Northwest and Delta Airlines. Outside of flying, he was involved in several projects, most especially as a member of Project Recover expeditions to the Pacific to find and return the remains of missing American servicemen from World War II. 

He is survived by his wife Rebecca and two sisters. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations should be made to Project Recover or Ann Arbor Fisher House Michigan. Tafralian was also a pilot, aircraft mechanic and parachute rigger who owned County Aviation Services, based at the Livingston County Airport. His service information is not yet known. 


LANSING, Michigan  — Friend's and family tell Fox 47 James Tafralian and Phillip Henry Colmer were kind, adventurous and loved.

On Wednesday we talked to a friend who gave us a closer look at who James Tafralian was.
It's a common practice for a mechanic to take a plane out for a test after working on.

"I think they were up doing a test flight with it and it quit on takeoff," said Roy Cooper, a mechanic, and owner of Cooper's Aviation.

A test flight is what Cooper says he thinks his friend and fellow mechanic James Tarfalian was doing on Tuesday morning when he died in a plane crash at Livingston County Airport.

"He was just one of the good guys that cared about the airport and was there when you needed him. a lot of people loved him," said Cooper.

Cooper says he and Tarfalian had a special friendship that lasted more than 35 years, bonded together by their love of flying.

"He and I were kind of adrenaline junkies," said Cooper. "It's just a passion nothing like being a bird up there in that airplane."

So when he got a message with a picture of the airplane he knew immediately that the friend he calls Jim worked on that plane.

"I just got a bad feeling, so I called Jim's phone," said Cooper. "He always answers because if I need a part he always answers, same here and he didn't answer. I waited for about a half-hour and I called again and I thought oh God that phone's ringing in that airplane."

Cooper says he's seen many crashes. His other friend and mechanic, also from Livingston County, died in a plane crash a few months ago in Lake Michigan.

Cooper himself was in a crash of his own that landed him in a permanent wheelchair.

"You crash the plane the best you can to try and make it out of it," said Cooper describing the crash. "Shot it through a tree and up like that and pancaked it."

Cooper's dad taught him to fly at six years old, he was in the United States Marine Corps Aviation and started a Cooper's Aviation, where he fixes planes, in 1975. That's where he says he and Tarfalian connected the most.

"If I needed a part I called him if he needed a part he called me. It's just a big loss to all of us," said Cooper.

After the accident, Cooper says he doesn't know what will happen to James' company County Aviation. He says now, there will only be two mechanical aviation services in the area.


HOWELL TOWNSHIP, Michigan (WILX) - The Livingston County Sheriff's office has released the names of the two people that died in a plane crash on Tuesday when a small plane crashed into a field on the side of the runway.

The sheriff's office is saying that the pilot was the 68-year-old and the passenger was from a company that owned the plane.

It happened around 11:20 a.m. in Howell Township at Spencer J. Hardy Airport.

The crash happened in the area of Tooley and West Highland roads, just east of I-96 in Howell Township.

Sheriff Murphy from Livingston County says that after a preliminary investigation they know a a single engine 4 passenger Aero Commander was attempting to land when it crashed.

The AP is reporting that the Federal Aviation Administration gave a conflicting account, saying the plane was taking off when it crashed.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

The Livingston Daily Press & Argus reports that a British company, Southern Aircraft Consultancy Inc, appears to have registered the aircraft with the FAA. The company helps non-citizens register their planes in the U.S.


Howell — A small plane crashed Tuesday in Livingston County, killing the two people who were on board, authorities said.

Livingston County Sheriff's Office deputies responded about 11:20 a.m. to the scene near West Highland and Tooley in Howell Township, the office said. The Howell Area Fire Department and the Livingston County EMS also responded to the scene.

According to a preliminary investigation, a single-engine, four-passenger Aero Commander was attempting to land at the Spencer J. Hardy Airport when it crashed, officials said in a statement.

They also said deputies will be helping with the investigation, but the federal government will lead the probe. Federal Aviation Administration officials said they had investigators on the way to the crash site and the National Transportation Safety Board planned to investigate as well.

As of 3 p.m., FAA investigators were still on scene of the crash and the aircraft had not been removed. About 2:30 p.m., two victims were taken by ambulance to University of Michigan Hospital for autopsies. Livingston County contracts with the hospital for medical examinations.

“We don’t know if he was taking off or landing,” Livingston County Undersheriff Jeff Warder said. “The FAA will make those determinations.”

Livingston County EMS Director Jeffrey Boyd said the crash occurred at the north end of the airport. The EMS headquarters is adjacent to the airport on Tooley Road.

“Both occupants were deceased,” he said. “All information has been turned over to federal investigators.”

Jenny Harrison, who lives off Tooley Road, was working on her car in the driveway about 11:30 a.m. when she noticed a helicopter circling over the airport.

“I hadn’t heard anything, it just felt weird like something was going on,” she said.

Her mother, Patty Londy, returned from a shopping trip at Costco and saw the downed aircraft.

“We’ve lived here for 28 years and there have been three or four crashes,” Londy said. “I hope they are all right.”

When told two victims had died, Londy covered her mouth with a hand and whispered, “Oh my God. I feel so sorry for them.”

The plane crash isn't the first in Michigan this month. A float plane crashed into two boats Saturday afternoon at a West Bloomfield Township lake. No serious injuries were reported.

Also, on July 27, two men were injured after their single-engine, two-seat plane crashed on Littlefield Lake in northern Isabella County. 

Marine deputies patrolling the area on Jet Skis witnessed the plane attempt to take off from the lake and when the plane became airborne, it appeared to struggle to gain altitude. 

Story and video ➤ https://www.detroitnews.com

Two people are dead after a small plane crashed Tuesday at Howell's Spencer J. Hardy Airport, police said.

Livingston County Sheriff Mike Murphy confirmed that the crash occurred about 11:20 a.m. Tuesday. He said the Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the incident and his office will assist.

Murphy said in a press release that the single-engine, four-passenger Aero Commander plane was attempting to land when it crashed.

The only two passengers on board were killed.

The FAA gave one piece of contradictory information about the circumstances of the crash, saying in a news release that the plane was attempting to take off.

Elizabeth Isham Cory, a spokesperson for the agency, said such discrepancies aren't unusual in the hours immediately after a crash and that what happened would be determined in the course of the investigation. 

Steve Riper, who lives in next to the airport, said it “sounded like a normal takeoff for the most part and then it just got really quiet."

He said he did not hear a crash.

The FAA promised to release the aircraft tail number once investigators verify it, but said it would defer to local officials to release the names of the deceased.

Officials closed the airport on Tuesday. 

From the perimeter, onlookers could see a small plane that came to rest off a runway in a grassy area and appeared to have significant damage.

FAA officials inspected what appeared to be a tire several yards in front of the plane. 

The plane appears to be registered with the FAA by an aircraft registration company in the United Kingdom. It is unclear who owns the plane.

The registration company, Southern Aircraft Consultancy, Inc., assists non-U.S. citizens with legally registering their planes with the FAA.

Officials left the scene around 4 p.m. with the plane still on the grass. 

Original article can be found here ➤ livingstondaily.com

A plane crashed this morning at the Spencer J. Hardy Airport in Howell Township. 

Livingston County Sheriff Mike Murphy confirmed that two people were killed when a single-engine four-passenger Aero Commander 200D crashed at approximately 11:20am. Deputies from the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office, Howell Area Fire, and Livingston County EMS, responded to the scene. 

The National Transportation Safety Board has been notified and will be in charge of the investigation. Elizabeth Isham Cory, who handles External Communications/Public Affairs for the Federal Aviation Administration, told WHMI that the FAA will release the aircraft tail number after investigators verify it. "Neither the FAA nor the NTSB release the names of aircraft occupants. We defer to local officials to make that information available at the appropriate time. The investigation will take a year or more to complete."

Nick Spaniola of Oceola Township witnessed the crash and says he and a co-worker were heading back to work from lunch and stopped at the light at M-59 and Grand River. He says they caught a glimpse of the plane as it immediately banked hard left and came down, adding there was no explosion or flames that were visible. "It was like paper airplane that you'd throw and fall to the side. It didn't seem to have any power." He says they immediately drove over to Tooley Road and called 911. 

The Associated Press reports that the plane appears to be registered with the FAA by an aircraft registration company in the United Kingdom. The registration company, Southern Aircraft Consultancy Inc., assists non-U.S. citizens with legally registering their planes with the FAA.

Original article can be found here ➤ https://www.whmi.com


  1. This one is really gonna be interesting.

  2. sure does look survivable as mentioned above...be curious if there were shoulder harnesses worn/available?

  3. Does look survivable if a harness was worn. May not have been installed and available.

    It did hit hard ... You can tell by the engine/mount displacement.


  4. Former airline pilot and a mechanic, sources on the scene say would have been possibly survivable if shoulder belts where used , not installed however.
    A pilot who witnessed it said stalled at about 200 ft unable to break the stall in time.

  5. If it fell 200 feet straight down it was unsurvivable. A friend had his plane stall and drop 150 feet with similar damage but he was dead of internal injuries upon impact. I have read that a human body cannot survive a dead stop from 70 mph.

  6. I read that the plane wobbled, stalled and rolled in inverted and hit right on the cockpit roof & windshield. First responders flipped the plane upright to extract the victims.

  7. Sorry mate but that is a load of bull. First responders did not just flip then plane over without equipment like they were superman. The damage shown from the photographs in no way indicates landing inverted nor does the ground scarring. Unless you think they also pivoted the plane around 180 degrees for the fun of it.

  8. https://youtu.be/crhvYzhLF1U A witness describes that the plane was upside down. My problem is that the vertical stabilizer isn't damaged on top as you would expect.

  9. Sorry, try this URL video link: https://youtu.be/Xffz1A9dTuc. Witnesses describe events.

  10. Unfortunate fact: Flesh cannot take the same amount of impact force as metal.

  11. This is just an observation, but it seems that almost in all the photos of these accidents the first responders are all about 200 to 300 lbs overweight except for the fire department. I guess physical fitness for EMS and Police is not a high priority. They look like Chief Wiggim from the simpsons.

  12. RIP. Been a few accidents by highly trained pilots of late. A lesson in humility. Aviation can bite hard in an instant.

  13. Was it the impossible turn? From the witness statement in the article, the "...eyewitnesses reported that the plane appeared to lose power, bank hard to the left, and then crash nose-first into a field at the end of the runway. "