Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Piper PA-24-250 Comanche, N8347P: Fatal accident occurred January 02, 2021 in New Hudson, Oakland County, Michigan

Michele, Dawson and David Compo 

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. 

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Belleville, Michigan 
Piper Aircraft; Vero Beach, Florida 
Lycoming; Williamsport, Pennsylvania 

Location: New Hudson, MI 
Accident Number: CEN21LA104
Date & Time: January 2, 2021, 15:41 Local 
Registration: N8347P
Aircraft: Piper PA-24-250 
Injuries: 3 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On January 2, 2021, at 1541 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-24-250 airplane, N8347P, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident in New Hudson, Michigan. The pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

There was no record that the pilot obtained a weather briefing or filed a flight plan on the day of the accident. He departed Cherokee County Airport (CNI), Canton, GA at 1221 and flew GPS (Global Positioning System) direct at 7,500 ft, estimated to arrive at Y47 at 1542. The pilot was not instrument rated.

About 1457, while inbound at 7,000 ft, the pilot established radio communications with the Detroit TRACON (terminal radar approach control). After the pilot was given the Detroit altimeter setting, the pilot asked the approach controller if there had been any icing PIREPs (pilot reports). The controller replied that there had not been any for the past hour and added that a pilot landing at Willow Run Airport (YIP), Ypsilanti, Michigan, located 16 miles south of Y47, had reported no icing in the clouds, and said the cloud bases were at 300 ft. The controller asked the pilot his intentions, and the pilot replied he would “give it (the approach) a shot.” The pilot added that if he had to make a missed approach, he would proceed to Oakland County International Airport (PTK), Pontiac, Michigan, located 13 miles northeast of Y47. The controller reiterated that the cloud bases in the area were reported to be 300 ft.

The pilot was cleared to descend to 4,000 ft, then to 3,000 ft, and instructed to fly a heading of 020° to intercept the final approach course. The controller then told the pilot to maintain 2,700 ft or above until established on the final approach course. Although the pilot was cleared for the VOR-A or GPS-A approach, it had been NOTAMed (Notice to Airmen) as unavailable. This notice was displayed on the Information Display System (IDS) at the radar position. The controller told the pilot to contact the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF) and to report back to him if he executed a missed approach or cancelled his IFR clearance after landing.

The airplane continued to descend to about 1,900 ft msl and passed over Y47. It then appeared to climb slightly to about 2,000 ft before it entered two descending left hand spiral turns at decreasing airspeed. Track data was lost about 1541 near the accident location, which was about ½-mile north of Y47. There was a post-impact fire that destroyed the airplane and did substantial damage to a house.

There were no ground injuries, but a cat inside the house was fatally injured.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper 
Registration: N8347P
Model/Series: PA-24-250
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file 
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: IMC
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: PTK,981 ft msl 
Observation Time: 15:53 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 13 Nautical Miles 
Temperature/Dew Point: 1°C /-1°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: / ,
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 600 ft AGL
Visibility: 8 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.07 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Canton, GA (CNI)
Destination: New Hudson, MI (Y47)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 2 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: On-ground
Ground Injuries:
Aircraft Explosion: On-ground
Total Injuries: 3 Fatal 
Latitude, Longitude: 42.509573,-83.623552 (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.

A plane crash killed one family and destroyed the home of another.

Still reeling from the memories and the what-ifs, Lyon Township firefighters spilled their guts regarding their response to the January 2 crash and fire along Dakota Drive.

Their commanders, including Chief Ken Van Sparrentak, were proud of their performance.

But for an after-action report that will help guide future responses, Assistant Chief Reggie Madeline wanted their views on what could have been done better.

They came up with 13 brutal points in the name of improving future responses associated with places like Oakland/Southwest Airport and beyond-the-norm challenges like hazardous materials.

“Knowledge of where equipment is on the truck: we should not be hunting for things at an incident,” the report suggested in areas for improvement.

“A greater sense of urgency is necessary,” another point stated. “Attic access was not made until 20 minutes after arrival. If we did have an attic fire, 20 minutes would have been too late.”

Pumping skills, cell phone use, better radio traffic … With a father, mother and child dead, the firefighters were their harshest critics.

“They were really beating themselves up,” Madeline said. “Is it something that they really did that bad? Probably not. With the outcome and everything that happened, they’re being harsher on themselves and beating themselves up thinking what could I have done better to change the outcome of this.

“To be honest with you nothing that we could have done was going to change the outcome. I think the outcome was decided before we arrived.”

Report summary of events

The after-action report included a tense timeline of their response. Here’s a snippet:   

15:41:21 Plane Crash;

15:42:42 First 911 call to OCSD. Caller states plane hit his neighbor’s house, a single person Cessna, and it’s on fire;

15:43:22 LTFD dispatched;

15:43:54 Reporting party advising occupants are still inside, and plane is on fire;

15:44:28 Caller advising address is 57693 Dakota;

15:45:06 Caller states all occupants are out of the house involved;

15:45:17 HVA en route from Novi. OCSD 1117 reports plane fully involved, house is on fire, with pilot possibly still inside the aircraft.

The after-action report provided a summary of the response and documented the 18 points that firefighters considered their strengths.

Strengths included clear and calm radio communications, quick calls for mutual aid, response times and professionalism.

“There’s always room for improvement but I thought the actions they took that day were practically flawless,” Van Sparrentak said.

The small Lyon Township Fire Department has about 10 full-time personnel and nearly 20 paid, on-call firefighters. South Lyon and Green Oak Township firefighters also responded to the plane crash, remaining on the scene for several hours. Green Oak’s foam extinguished hot spots.

In the days afterward, they also were invited to participate in the critical incident stress debriefing that the Lyon Township fire chief arranged with Oakland County.

“There’s a lot of stress involved in scenes like that and seeing victims like that,” said Van Sparrentak, who has served nearly eight years as township fire chief but never responded to a plane crash into a township home before.

COVID-19 prevented Lyon Township firefighters from their annual visit to the Oakland/Southwest Airport for a tour, rundown of operations and exposure to planes and their fuel systems.

Yet their routine training gave them some knowledge of dealing with flammable liquids and hazardous materials.

“They did all they could ... absolutely,” Oakland County Central Services Director David VanderVeen said. “They were the first responders. They did respond ASAP and did all they could.”

VanderVeen said the Oakland/Southwest Airport’s man on duty the afternoon of January 2 is an on-call firefighter for South Lyon.

He learned from the Federal Aviation Administration that a plane should have arrived earlier. Then, his pager started going off.

Madeline lives near the airport and Dakota Drive. His pager went off. He heard the dispatch for a plane crash. He looked out the window and saw the smoke.  

“I got ready and I started heading toward the station,” he said. “I heard my first truck get enroute. As soon as they called the route, I just (went) right to the structure itself. A plane did crash.”

Madeline was the first on the Dakota Drive scene, which was less than a mile from Lyon Township’s Grand River Avenue station.

Oakland County businessman David Compo, his wife Michele and their son Dawson were returning from Georgia when their small Piper plane slammed into a home.

A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board indicated David Compo, of Northville, encountered landing problems and lacked some key training.

The Mudzwovas – Pride, Danielle and their two children – safely escaped their burning home, which was wrecked by the blaze. They would like to rebuild.

Lyon Township firefighters are responsible for about 33 square miles populated by approximately 20,000 people. Van Sparrentak said firefighters respond to about 1,500 calls a year.

David Compo (left) and long time friend, Bill Phillips, just before takeoff in Compo's plane.

OAKLAND COUNTY, Michigan (WXYZ) — A family of three killed when their private plane crashed into a Lyon Township home on Saturday has been identified.

David S. Compo, former president of the Home Builders Association of Southeastern Michigan, his wife Michele and their son Dawson all died in the crash when the plane they were flying crashed into a home Saturday afternoon.

“There was a huge cloud of smoke, like really tall flames," said neighbor Chase Southwick. "We thought the whole house was going to be gone.”

There was another family inside the home at the time of the crash that escaped with no injuries, according to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.

The plane went down just a half-mile from the Oakland Southwest Airport. The Northville family was returning from a trip to Canton, Georgia.

David is said to be an experienced pilot. His term as president of the Home Builders Association of Southeastern Michigan (HBA) recently ended on December 31, the organization said.

“We were fortunate to have David leading our team for 2020,” said Michael Stoskopf, HBA’s CEO. “His involvement, professionalism and experience over the years have been great assets to our organization and he has been a true friend to me as we faced challenge after challenge during this past year.”

Dawson Compo was a recent graduate of Detroit Catholic Central High School, and was a member of the band and cross country team.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board continue to investigate.

Dawson Compo

Detroit Catholic Central High School
We are deeply saddened by the loss of Dawson Compo '20 and his parents.

Dawson was an active member of our band and cross country communities, and had a bright future ahead of him. As a member of the Class of 2020, Dawson helped set an incredible example of how to persevere through challenging times, and we will continue to lean on our faith and each other for support in this tragic time.

Our prayers are with the extended family, and all those who have been impacted by this loss. The Superior General of the Basilian Fathers, Fr. Kevin J. Storey, and the Presidents of the other Basilian schools extend their deepest sympathies and promise of prayers to the Catholic Central Community. The Guidance Office will also be ready and available to meet with any students who need to talk to someone once we return to the building on Monday.

Detroit Catholic Central High School

David Compo

Home Builders Association of Southeastern Michigan

It is with the deepest sorrow that we let you know of the death of HBA's 2020 President David S. Compo, his wife Michelle and their son Dawson this afternoon, when their private plane crashed into a home in Lyon Township, just a half a mile from the the Oakland Southwest Airport which was their destination.

The family had flown to Canton, Georgia on December 29 and was returning home today.

The Compo family has been a significant part of HBA's history for decades and David has been instrumental in helping the association weather the many obstacles HBA faced during 2020.
Our hearts go out to David's mother, Janet Compo, who served as HBA's president in 1995, brother Christopher and Lisa Compo and the extended family.
We will contact you with memorial details as they become available.

Michael C. Stoskopf, CEO
Home Builders Association of Southeastern Michigan

Aircraft recovery, transportation and storage of N8347P provided by AMF Aviation LLC of Clarksville, Tennessee, on January 4, 2021.

Aircraft recovery, transportation and storage of N8347P provided by AMF Aviation LLC of Clarksville, Tennessee, on January 4, 2021.


  1. This pilot was characterized as 'a great pilot' and according to his brother had flown into the destination airport about '500 times', over a 20 to 30 year span of experience, and was working on his instrument rating...but had not obtained a weather briefing or filed a flight plan. 3 and a half hour flight, so fuel remaining would be a concern. I'd really like to have a conversation with one of these type pilots, find out what was the rationale for such a lack of good judgement.

    1. Agreed! In this particular case there’s so many red flags It’s had to comprehend how this Pilot could endanger his family so carelessly. If you take a deeper dive you’l find that (although it’s hearsay) he was not very concerned about getting inst rating.
      “Great pilots” don’t endanger anyone.

  2. A clear case of "the rules don't apply to me". If I read the report correctly, he filed no flight plan. He flew VFR towards his destination which turned out to be IMC. He then contacted Approach, requested and was granted a pop-up IFR clearance though he was not instrument rated. And proceeded to kill himself and his family. Un-"f"in believable!!!