Sunday, September 29, 2019

Collision During Landing: Monnett Sonerai S1L, N197X; fatal accident occurred March 22, 2018 in DeWitt, Clinton 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 Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Dewitt, MI
Accident Number: CEN18LA123
Date & Time: 03/22/2018, 1830 EDT
Registration: N197X
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Collision during takeoff/land
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On March 22, 2018, about 1830 eastern daylight time, an amateur-built Star-Lite S1L airplane, N197X, collided with power lines while attempting to land at a private airstrip near Dewitt, Michigan. The pilot initially survived the accident but later succumb to his injuries. The airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the flight.

While on short final to the pilot's private airstrip, landing to the west, the airplane collided with power lines about 200 ft short of the runway. The airplane then descended and impacted terrain.

According to information obtained by the responding Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, prior to the accident, the pilot flew to another airport to visit a friend. The friend stated that the pilot said he needed to leave by a certain time, or he would have problems with sun glare during landing to his private strip.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Airline Transport; Commercial
Age: 69, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied:
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed:
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 09/23/2015
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: (Estimated) 17100 hours (Total, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: MILLS MICHAEL
Registration: N197X
Model/Series: S1L NO SERIES
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2015
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: 540
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Date/Type of Last Inspection:
Certified Max Gross Wt.:
Time Since Last Inspection:
Airframe Total Time:
Engine Manufacturer:
Engine Model/Series:
Registered Owner: MILLS MICHAEL
Rated Power:
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: KLAN, 874 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 9 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1853 EDT
Direction from Accident Site: 137°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 10 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:
Wind Direction: 280°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:
Altimeter Setting: 30.22 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 6°C / -11°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Dewitt, MI
Type of Flight Plan Filed: VFR
Destination: Dewitt, MI
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time:  EDT
Type of Airspace:

The position of the sun at the time of the accident was 14° above the horizon at a relative azimuth of 257° to the pilot during the approach.

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 42.887222, -84.720000 (est) 

The airplane impacted a field east of the airstrip. The fuselage and both wings were wrinkled and deformed. An examination of the airplane by the FAA inspector confirmed flight control continuity to from the cockpit controls to the respective flight control surfaces. No anomalies were detected with the airframe or engine which would have precluded normal operation of the airplane. 

Medical And Pathological Information

An autopsy was conducted on the pilot by the Sparrow Forensic Pathology. The autopsy noted an enlarged heart with left ventricular hypertrophy and very mild coronary artery disease. The cause of death is multiple blunt force injuries. The manner of death was ruled an accident.

The FAA Bioaeronautical Science Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology testing on specimens collected from the pilot. Testing was negative for all tested substances.


  1. site map at'14.0%22N+84%C2%B043'12.0%22W/@42.8873597,-84.7216441,93m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x0!8m2!3d42.887222!4d-84.72

  2. From the above mentioned map, estimate 2000 ft landing strip.

  3. Well, I guess he simply came down too fast, like in all fatal crashes.