Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Cessna 150M, N9492U: Fatal accident occurred September 09, 2019 in Whitehall, Muskegon County, Michigan

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

https://registry.faa.gov/N9492U

Location: WHITEHALL, MI
Accident Number: CEN19LA308
Date & Time: 09/09/2019, 1140 EDT
Registration: N9492U
Aircraft: Cessna 150
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On September 9, 2019, about 1140 eastern daylight time (EDT), a Cessna C-150 airplane, N9492U, impacted a water tower in Whitehall, Michigan. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed by the impact and a post crash fire. The airplane was operated by the pilot as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions were reported at the accident site at the time of the accident, and the flight was not operated on a flight plan. The flight originated from Fremont Municipal Airport (FFX), Fremont, Michigan, about 1115.

According to local law enforcement officials, witnesses observed the airplane flying straight and level prior to impact with a 180 ft tall municipal water tower. The witnesses also reported the engine appeared to be operating normally at a high power setting when the impact occurred.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N9492U
Model/Series: 150 M
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: 
Observation Time:
Distance from Accident Site:
Temperature/Dew Point:
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction:
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility:  
Altimeter Setting:
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Fremont, MI (FFX)
Destination:

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 43.405556, -86.335556 (est)

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. 

James Joseph Laird 

Laird, James 11/20/1939 - 9/9/2019
Twin Lake 

James Laird, age 79, passed away unexpectedly doing what he loved to do on September 9th, 2019. He was born in Muskegon, MI on November 20, 1939 to Galen & Henrietta (Fortenbacher) Laird. He married the former Carol Schultz and then married Janice Mabrey Wisniewski. Mr. Laird had been owner/operator at Laird Heating and Cooling. 

James liked flying planes, model trains & his dog, Dutch. 

SURVIVORS 
Wife, Janice; Sons, Jeff (Deb) Laird of Blue Lake & Brian (Patti) Laird of Whitehall; step- daughters, Lynn Lindsey & Staci Boike; grandsons, Kyle Laird, Dustin Laird, Matt (Jenna) Laird, Devon (Matt) Cowles & Austin Boike; great grandchildren; sisters-in-law, Marge Laird & Rosemary Laird; nephew, Bob Laird & other nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers, William & Robert; sister, Mary Margaret & step son, Steve. 

SERVICE 
According to Jim's wishes there will be no services. 
Please visit www.clockfuneralhome.com to leave a memory.





A private plane struck the Whitehall water tower near the intersection of Warner St. and Sophia St. at 11:42 a.m. Monday, September 9th, killing the pilot.

By later Monday the name of the deceased pilot was released. He was James Joseph Laird, age 79 of Twin Lake.

Family members were at the crash site while remains of the plane were removed.

A son, Brian Laird, said his dad had flown for many years, and he kept his airplane at the Fremont airport. "We're in the dark about what happened," he said.

The crash occurred across the road from the main Whitehall District Schools campus which includes the middle school, the football stadium and community center with pre-school. Also next to the water tower are the school baseball and softball fields.

The plane burst into flames upon impact, according to witnesses.

The plane wreckage was mostly contained within the boundary fence surrounding the water tower. The wheels were found on Sophia Street and smaller parts were scattered in nearby yards and grassy areas.

A small dent and scorch mark can be seen on the water tower where it was struck.

Whitehall schools immediately alerted parents about the incident and that their children were safe. However, it is believed some children on the football field and preschool playground witnessed the crash.

Whitehall Police Chief Roger Squiers said all public safety departments in the area responded to the scene, and a White Lake Fire Authority member was first on the scene.

Squiers said the flames were quickly extinguished.

White Lake Fire Authority Chief Gregory Holman said WLFA, Montague Fire and Blue Lake Twp were dispatched to the scene at 11:42 a.m. "Montague and Blue Lake are on automatic aid for a scenario like that," Holman explained.

The chief said the WLFA initiated the fire attack and Montague was quickly on the scene to supply WLFA's mini-pumper.

Dalton Township and Norton Shores fire departments reached out to provide command assistance.

Because the fire was extinguished quickly, Holman said Blue Lake was moved to the WLFA Station One to provide coverage while WLFA was on the airplane crash scene. Blue Lake was released at 3 p.m., and had responded to calls during that time.

Holman said Norton Shores was helpful because it deals with air traffic control at the Muskegon County Airport and has resources.

Norton Shores and Central Dispatch helped contact outside agencies like the Federal Aviation Administration for an investigation, and the Medical Examiner to official declare the pilot deceased.

The WLFA chief said that once the fire was extinguished their efforts turned to blocking out outside traffic and preserving the scene by marking location of debris.

Firefighters also helped remove the body from the wreckage for the Medical Examiner.

Law enforcement at the scene were the Whitehall and Montague city police, Muskegon County Sheriff's Department and the Michigan State Police.

Emergency Medical Services were provided by Pro-Med and White Lake Ambulance Authority.

The Muskegon County Emergency Services also provided support.

The local McDonalds restaurant sent over cheeseburgers and French Fries for first responders who were at the crash scene.

"It was a unified incident command," the fire chief said. "It was a very great joint effort from law enforcement, EMS, fire and even Whitehall DPW becasue it involved the water tower. It was an unfortunate event, but very successful because it demonstrated the cooperation between all our agencies."

Holman said Central Dispatch played a key role by sending out resources while also handling many calls reporting the crash.

“In the initial assessment there was one male passenger in the plane.,” reported Squiers in mid-afternoon.

He said the single engine plane originated from the Fremont Airport and the pilot lived east of Whitehall.

The plane was headed from the northeast in a southwesterly direction, the chief explained.

He said witnesses indicated the plane showed a level flight with no veering and no signs of engine problems.

“We don’t know where the pilot was going or what his intentions were,” Squiers added.

Jeremy Watts, one of the eyewitnesses to the crash, works at a home across Sophia Street from the 500,000 gallon, 180 foot tall water tower.

“I was standing in the yard at 820 Sophia Street and was walking back (to the house) when I looked overhead and saw the plane.”

Watts said the plane engine was loud because it was flying so low. “It hit the water tower straight on. I immediately called 911. It (plane) went straight down and there was black smoke where it hit. I ran up to the fence but didn’t see much.

“It’s the craziest thing I have seen in my life. There was so much black smoke and fire.”

Immediately after the crash smoke could be seen from the crash site for several blocks to the west.

City of Whitehall Department of Public Works Director Brian Armstrong and City Manager Scott Huebler were at the scene.

Huebler said Armstrong was working on arranging for engineers to check the integrity of the water tower.

“In the meantime we are taking it out of service,” added Huebler who said DPW personnel will be draining the water tower until it is inspected.

“We have a second water tower so we don’t need it for normal operations,” Huebler said. “We won’t have to restrict water usage.”

The city manager said they have contacted the schools to tell officials that Warner Street, from Alice Street to Slocum Street will be off limits for buses for at least a day.

Original article ➤ https://www.shorelinemedia.net





WHITEHALL, Michigan (WOOD) — Authorities say a 79-year-old pilot is dead after his plane crashed into Whitehall’s water tower and caught fire.

Crews were called to the scene in the area of Warner and Sophia streets near Whitehall District Schools’ athletic fields around 11:42 a.m. Monday.

Firefighters arrived to find heavy smoke and flames coming from the wreckage. Crews put out the fire and determined the pilot of the single-engine plane had died.

Whitehall Police Chief Roger Squires identified the pilot as James Joseph Laird of Twin Lake. Laird took off from Fremont’s municipal airport about 45 minutes before the crash, according to authorities.

Investigators say it’s unclear what caused his plane to crash. They say Laird’s flight path didn’t change and there is no indication of engine problems based on the plane’s speed.

Online Federal Aviation Administration records show that Laird’s certification to fly expired in 2000, News 8 found.

School administrative staff told News 8 that there were no students and staff on the ground in that area when the crashed happened. Authorities confirmed no one else was injured in the incident.

The city has isolated the water tower from its system and shut it off until inspectors can evaluate the tower’s structure and water.

Investigators say the wreckage will remain at the scene for a few hours until the Federal Aviation Administration arrives.

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

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

RIP.

unanswered questions!

... one of the eyewitnesses to the crash, works at a home across Sophia Street from the 500,000 gallon, 180 foot tall water tower.

“I was standing in the yard at 820 Sophia Street and was walking back (to the house) when I looked overhead and saw the plane.”

Watts said the plane engine was loud because it was flying so low. “It hit the water tower straight on. I immediately called 911. It (plane) went straight down and there was black smoke where it hit. I ran up to the fence but didn’t see much.

Commend the community response effort.

"It was a unified incident command," the fire chief said. "It was a very great joint effort from law enforcement, EMS, fire and even Whitehall DPW becasue it involved the water tower. It was an unfortunate event, but very successful because it demonstrated the cooperation between all our agencies."

Anonymous said...

Translated: An old guy died doing what he loved and he crashed and burned. Hope I make it to that age. That would be awesome. Prayers.

Anonymous said...

I'm going with medical incapacitation as a cause on this one.

Anonymous said...

I'm going with suicide as the cause on this one.

Anonymous said...

I am waiting for further investigation on this one

Anonymous said...

Let's start with this. PVT Pilot issued 2005, last reported medical-1998.

License date due to many being re-issued a plastic license around that time- last reported medical- well, believe it or not, there are many who fly without current medical exams.

CFI no mo' said...

Medical issue ? Decided he'd had enough ?

Anonymous said...

Flew into a water tower on September 11?

Anonymous said...

Looks like suicide by pilot. He wasn't an AG plane so what the hell he was doing less than 500 ft from structures and people, assuming it was an unpopulated part of town. If it was a high density urban environment, even just a speck of yellow on the sectional, he would have to be at least 1000 ft AGL and 2000 ft horizontally from any vertical structure that high.

I call deliberate and premeditated on this one. Indeed 911 got to him for some obscure reasons we could never explain.

Anonymous said...

The accident was on the 9th not the 11th. Please try and read the article next time.

Anonymous said...

Heading straight for the tower that low,died doing what he enjoyed the most,sad for those he left behind.

Anonymous said...

Obviously those water towers are made pretty stout! Hit it dead-on and barely scratched it.

Anonymous said...

"Obviously those water towers are made pretty stout! Hit it dead-on and barely scratched it."

Good point. But of course the water tower had a small mass advantage. 500,000 gallons of water weighs 4 million pounds. The tower itself would be at least another million pounds. Call it 5 million pounds ... rough math.

Then some rough math on the Cessna ... about 1,500 lb with one person on board.

Water tower outweighs the Cessna about 3,000 : 1.

Anonymous said...

Phil Nugent on 08/04/2018
"To bad about your brother, William, hope you are not too far behind him. You are a worthless piece of SHIT. All Lairds rip off their customers. Hope you die soon dickhead."