Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Piper PA-28-181 Archer TX, N820ND: Fatal accident occurred October 18, 2021 in Buxton, Traill County, North Dakota

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 traveled to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Fargo, North Dakota
University of North Dakota; Grand Forks, North Dakota
Piper Aircraft Inc; Vero Beach, Florida
Lycoming; Williamsport, Pennsylvania

University of North Dakota

Location: Buxton, North Dakota 
Accident Number: CEN22FA017
Date and Time: October 18, 2021, 19:24 Local
Registration: N820ND
Aircraft: PIPER AIRCRAFT INC PA-28-181 
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Instructional

On October 18, 2021, about 1924 central daylight time, a Piper PA-28-181 airplane, N820ND, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Buxton, North Dakota. The pilot sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 instructional flight.

According to preliminary air traffic control (ATC) data, the airplane departed the Grand Forks International Airport (GFK), Grand Forks, North Dakota, about 1900, for a night, solo crosscountry flight to Hector International Airport (FAR), Fargo, North Dakota. The airplane departed runway 17L, climbed to about 3,700 ft mean sea level, and continued south toward FAR. About 30 miles from GFK, the data showed the airplane turned left about 180° and began a rapid descent. ATC data was lost about 1924. Based on an estimate of the last known flight track position, the airplane was located by local law enforcement about 2040.

The airplane wreckage was located in a plowed, soft, dirt field, and distributed on a measured magnetic heading of about 300°. The initial impact point in the field, which was consistent with both wings, the landing gear, and fuselage, was located about 25 ft from the main wreckage. The initial impact contained the two-blade propeller and propeller hub, and several separated sections of the forward, lower fuselage. Fragmented sections of the engine cowling, upper cockpit and windscreen structure, plexiglass, and avionics were found in the debris forward of the main wreckage. Both wing leading edges were crushed aft to the flaps and ailerons. The forward fuselage was crushed aft to the rear cabin bulkhead. The airplane damage was consistent with a high angle and high energy impact with terrain.

Postaccident examination of the airplane revealed no mechanical malfunctions that would have precluded normal operations.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N820ND
Model/Series: PA-28-181 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built:
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Pilot school (141)
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC 
Condition of Light: NightDark
Observation Facility, Elevation: KGFK,832 ft msl
Observation Time: 19:53 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 23 Nautical Miles 
Temperature/Dew Point: 14°C /7°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 7 knots / , 170°
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 25000 ft AGL
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.67 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Grand Forks, ND (GFK)
Destination: Fargo, ND (FAR)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Latitude, Longitude: 47.568545,-97.032507 (est)

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation may contact them by email witness@ntsb.gov, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email assistance@ntsb.gov. You can also call the NTSB Response Operations Center at 844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290.

John A Hauser
JULY 9, 2002 – OCTOBER 18, 2021

John Alan Hauser of Chicago passed away on October 18, 2021 after 19 years of a joy- and love-filled life. John attended St. Benedict’s Elementary School, where his loud imitations of police sirens filled the courtyard during recess and startled the teachers. He played on the school basketball teams during the winters and on Welles Park baseball teams during the summers. He then attended Northside College Prep High School, where he played in the band and was listed on the honor roll. It was during this time that he developed his passion for rowing and joined the Chicago Rowing Foundation team, where he made many close friends. His senior year, he was elected co-captain; he and his crewmembers won the Head of the Hooch Regatta in Tennessee and earned a place as one of the best rowing teams in the nation. His teammates enjoyed his competitiveness lightened with pranks and a sense of humor. Perfecting his imitation of his coach’s Australian accent was a goal that made long regatta bus rides pass by more quickly. For his hobbies, he transitioned from playing piano to playing poker. After graduating from high school, he pursued his second passion, a love of flying, by majoring in commercial aviation at the University of North Dakota, where he also enjoyed the camaraderie of his Delta Tau Delta fraternity brothers.

John lived with integrity and was fearless in speaking out about what mattered to him. He made friends easily and then was steadfastly loyal to them, demonstrating his love through actions as well as words. Hard work came naturally to him at a young age, and neighbors will recall the early morning rhythmic scraping of his snow shovel moving slowly up and down the block. Later, he moved on to jobs such as umpiring, delivering food, scooping ice cream, and finally working as a health aid. In between school, work, and flying, he found time to enjoy long road trips with his friends or family to National Parks.

John is survived by his mother Anne Suh, his father Alan Hauser, his sister Grace Hauser, and his grandmother Ruth Suh. He is also survived by beloved aunts, uncles, cousins, extended family, and his girlfriend Emma. John is preceded in death by his grandparents Irene and Sylvester Hauser and John T. Suh. Visitation will be at the Drake & Son Funeral Home (5303 N Western Ave, Chicago) on Friday, October 29, 2021, from 4:00 to 8:00 P.M. Funeral services will be held on Saturday, October 30, 2021, at 11:00 A.M. at St. Benedict’s Church (2215 W Irving Park Road, Chicago). 

If friends so desire, in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the John A. Hauser Mental Health in Aviation Initiative (https://undalumni.org/JohnsFund).

John Hauser

BUXTON, North Dakota -- The University of North Dakota's aerospace school has cancelled all flight activities after a student pilot from Chicago died in a plane crash.

The University of North Dakota plane went down about 8:30 p.m. Monday in a field near the Traill County community of Buxton, in northeastern North Dakota, according to the Highway Patrol. The Grand Forks-based school identified the victim as 19-year-old John Hauser, a student majoring in commercial aviation from Chicago.

Hauser, a sophomore, was pronounced dead at the scene.

UND flight instructor Andrew Fox told the Star Tribune that he met Hauser at the Grand Forks airport and "signed him off that night for a solo flight. He was building (training) time."

Fox said Hauser, who was a licensed pilot, was going to arrive at the Fargo airport, "do a couple landings and come back to Grand Forks."

The National Transportation Safety Board said the plane that crashed was a Piper PA-28-180.

Robert Kraus, dean of the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences, ordered a "safety stand down," halting all flight activity Tuesday.

"Out of respect for the family we stress that you should not speculate about this event and let the investigation takes its course," Kraus said in an email to students and school officials.

University officials said counseling services are being offered to students.

"The loss of a member of our UND community affects us all," UND President Andrew Armacost said in a statement.

University spokesman David Dodds said flight activities were being halted so the school could review safety protocols, but also out of respect for the victim and to provide counseling to fellow students.

UND's aviation school is one of the largest such programs in the country, with more than 1,800 students and 500 faculty members.

The fatal crash was the first involving a UND airplane since 2007, when a student and flight instructor were killed in central Minnesota after their aircraft collided with geese, the National Transportation Safety Board said.

In 2000, an aviation student died when he crashed a UND-owned twin-engine plane in Rapid City, South Dakota, and authorities suspected he had taken his own life. The student had been charged with his second drunken-driving offense a day earlier - a charge that would have made it difficult for him to get a flying job.

In 1995, two UND students died in a plane crash in Wisconsin. That flight, which was not school-sanctioned, involved UND aviation students and a friend in a rented plane.

A statement from University of North Dakota President Andy Armacost reads as follows:

"The University of North Dakota community is deeply saddened to learn of the death of John Hauser, a student majoring in Commercial Aviation from Chicago, Illinois. We extend our heartfelt condolences to John’s family, friends, classmates, and fraternity brothers. They are all in our thoughts and prayers. The loss of a member of our UND community affects us all. The University is here to offer support to students who would like counseling assistance. University Counseling Center staff members are available for crisis sessions any time Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. In addition, representatives from the Counseling Center will be available in Ryan Hall, room 207, for the remainder of this week for anyone who would like to talk with them. Please call 701-777-2127 to schedule an appointment. University Counseling Center will accommodate students’ needs for service on a case by case need. After hours, 24/7 First Link support is available and can be reached by dialing 211 or calling 701-235-7335. Faculty and staff can also consult UND’s Employee Assistance Program, thevillagefamily.org or 1-800-627-8220 as needed. This is a tragic time for John’s family and his friends. We must take the time to remember his impact on our campus community and to come together to support one another."


  1. Clear skies and tailwinds John o7

  2. Not sure if it's relevant in this case, but imagine being a student pilot and being told you'll need to discontinue your antidepressants if you want any chance at a career in flying. Does that seem like a good policy? We need FAA mental health reform now.

    1. So… you were denied a medical for antidepressant use, huh?

    2. No, I fly on Basic Med and am not trying to make a career out of it.

    3. I don't know why the FAA just doesn't adopt the basic medical for Class 3 certificate seems reasonable, but keep it current rules for Class 1 and 2 medical certificates.

    4. If you are taking antidepressants, you should not be flying commercially; too many antidepressants list as a potential side effect "suicidal thoughts and tendencies". There are scores of professional pilots who took antidepressants temporarily, sat on the sidelines while doing so, and after a monitoring and evaluation period went on about their careers. Kudos to each and every one of them, their physicians, and the families and friends who stood by them. But before flying commercially, you need to be off those meds. A doctor, a mental health professional, a mentor, or a family member should have counseled this young man to deal with his mental health issues BEFORE embarking on a career track aviation program. Young people deal with scores of anxieties and other problems that sometimes manifest in the use of antidepressants. The issues that led to the prescribing of antidepressants need to be resolved first, then they can have their shot at a career in aviation; to mix and match antidepressants with the anxieties and neuroses of youth and then combine those powerful forces with aviation and the stress of "cutting it" in a competitive aviation program is an unacceptable level of risk. Sometimes, you have to look at someone and say "no" or "not until you resolve these other issues". It's life.

    5. Psychiatrist here, and agree with the need for reform. Imagine rules that actually are updated to reflect the current science? Instead we have policies that reveal the fear and misunderstanding that so commonly surround psychiatric disorders and treatments, and incentivize people to avoid seeking help for themselves and then fly airplanes with untreated psychiatric conditions. "Mentally Ill" is not a category of person readily-identifiable at birth or even at your routine AME evaluation. With the sizable number of people who will experience a Major Depressive Episode in their lives (pilots too!), along with the significant associated cognitive impairment which predictably makes for unsafe flying, it should be of interest to all of us to fix the current system. In reality, it is generally known that the Black Box warning for SSRIs has caused more harm than good, and that there is no evidence they cause increased completed suicides in people who take them, or that they have side effects more dangerous than depression itself (they rarely have any). Also in reality, abstaining from medication for 12 months to "prove" you're OK to fly isn't increasing your ability to fly safely; instead, it's increasing your risk for relapse of whatever disorder you have, which in itself makes a future episode of it more likely. And let's not be fooled into thinking people with a deep passion for flying somehow self-select from this process merely because they suffer depression and go find other careers where they can take their Wellbutrin.

      Most importantly let's stop avoiding this conversation. Every other post on this site is filled with opinionated commentary and speculation to the root cause of an accident often with partial or pending NTSB reports, yet in this case where the best available evidence clearly suggests a kid's suicide, people are too hesitant to make any judgements before they "wait for all the facts"

  3. what do antidepressants and mental health have to do with this?

  4. Speculation regarding the pilot's state of mind at the time of the accident.

    1. More than speculation - an alert had been issued in relation to a potential suicidal pilot prior to the accident.

    2. https://www.grandforksherald.com/news/education/7244575-As-investigation-begins-UND-identifies-student-killed-in-deadly-crash-halts-flight-training

    3. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.yahoo.com/amphtml/now/investigation-begins-und-identifies-student-143100670.html

  5. "Out of respect for the family we stress that you should not speculate about this event and let the investigation takes its course"

    I disagree with Dean Kraus. I believe that speculating about airplane accidents is healthy for pilots to do. It is trying to "fly the airplane" the primary responsibility of the pilot. Also expressed as "Aviate, Navigate, Communicate".

    I see waiting over a year for the NTSB to issue a report is called a "Hazardous Attitude", specifically "Resignation". A pilot recognizing that there is a problem, and then having to wait over a year for relevant information to solve that problem in insane. That is not safety.

    1. I agree and disagree. Speculation leading to a firm belief of the “final result” is neither acceptable nor is it healthy for those who knew the pilot or are affected by the loss. However, speculating factors that may have gone into an accident is good practice. Makes you think about all the different things it could have been. Brings it all to the front of the mind and hopefully raises awareness amongst yourself and others.

    2. I’m happy to let others waste their time speculating. I’ll wait for the facts

    3. Absolutely agree. Wait for the facts.

      Problem is sometimes the 'facts' can be the subject of debate.

    4. The issue Dean Kraus is trying to avoid here is a matter of reputation. It would be easy to say “it was the pilot’s fault” or “it must’ve been UND cutting corners on safety” without knowing the full story. People will believe anything they hear, and spreading false speculation can tarnish the reputation of whoever it concerns. If people labeled this accident as ‘pilot error’ or a ‘suicide’ when in reality it was the cause of dangerous policies and procedures at UND, that would be bad. If people spread libel against the university for having unsafe practices when the accident was the result of a deliberate act outside of the university’s control, that would also be bad. Of course now that more information has been made public, it is becoming clearer what really happened, but without that information being fact checked, reputations can be unrightfully damaged. UND intends to protect the reputation of the victim just as much as their own.

  6. If this is audio related to the accident it sounds as if a near midair prior to accident.


  7. Student Pilots are not required to do NIGHT Solo to take the Private pilot exam. Of the dozens of Pvt pilots I trained years ago as a CFI (still have CFI just not teaching actively) I don't recall signing student off for night solo. HOWEVER I made sure the night dual they got was on near moonless dark nights and they really knew how to reference flight instruments.

    1. This pilot held a private certificate.

    2. was not a student.. did not need a sign off other than university's requirements to rent their airplane.

    3. Correct. I was a student from 1988-1989 before being signed off for a private. And while I logged a few hours of night flying under mandatory training syllabus dual, I never wanted to fly night solo even though I was offered to do so (the instructor felt comfortable enough with me but I didn't). After getting my private with 45 hours or so, I continued to hire my instructor to ride along on night VFR flights for the next 10 hours or so before I felt as comfortable night flying as day flying - specifically cross country into unfamiliar airports because as we all know it's a whole other world flying at night...literally.

  8. Odd flight path/climb rate:

    Either he had a serious headwind or he was hangin on the prop and on the brink of a power on stall on TO. Something was definitely wrong from the beginning.

    1. Headwind, 9 knots at the field's AWOS.

      The 7 PM CDT takeoff is zero minute of UTC day 19 October. Here are METARS for the time period encompassing the flight:

      KGFK 182355Z AUTO 16009KT 10SM CLR 18/08 A2967
      KGFK 190000Z AUTO 16009KT 10SM CLR 17/08 A2967
      KGFK 190005Z AUTO 16007KT 10SM CLR 17/08 A2967
      KGFK 190010Z AUTO 17005KT 10SM CLR 16/08 A2967
      KGFK 190015Z AUTO 16008KT 10SM CLR 16/08 A2967
      KGFK 190020Z AUTO 16009KT 10SM CLR 17/08 A2967
      KGFK 190025Z AUTO 16008KT 10SM CLR 17/08 A2967

      Raw archive WX source:

  9. I remember a UND pilot intentionally crashing his Pa-44 on a runway in ND. He asked the tower controller to call a phone number when the time was appropriate.

  10. FAA does allow SSRI anti-depressants. Looks like the process could take a year if everything goes well.

    The real issue after that would be getting hired with a Special Issuance Class 1.

    1. I think the Germanwings Flight 9525 suicide-murder flight into Italian Alps by the co-pilot was a wake up call to pilots with mental issues. In the GW crash, the doctor hid the pilot's "unfit for work" status from the employer due to right of health privacy by the German government. We do not know this situation, but we have to keep these discussions at the forefront because running from the discussion of potential mental issues can, and has, been proven to be deadly for not only the person in question, but innocent lives as well.

      For hypothetical example, what if a crew member forgets to take his/her medication or forgets to pack it on a trip and doesn't tell anyone? I had first hand experience dealing with someone who has bi-polar disorder and forgot her medication on a trip. She became suicidal and had to be hauled into custody for her own safety.

  11. A Class 1 is a Class 1 special issuance or not. Would have nothing to do with getting hired

    1. That is true. However, monitoring is required per the HIMS program. Monitoring by the HIMS AME, the Psychiatrist, and the pilots company representative (chief pilot or such).

  12. Unlike most of the rest of the world the medicals in America are purely to wean out unfit pilots without any counseling to get them fit. This forces some to hide any medical issue, be it suicidal tendencies or depression or drug use. And now due to NTSB's pressure anyone who had a DUI/drug conviction even a decade or more after the fact is put on a special issuance. Once there it means a lines where scrutiny is enormous and no employer will also hire someone who is on one.
    If the GermanWings case was bad I imagine there's quite a few psychotic pilots out there flying for the airlines and the only reason there hasn't been a suicide by pilot case in the US is probably because of that rule where at least 2 crewmembers need to be in a cockpit at any one time. But how many are opiate dependent or barely functioning and learned to hide it to the FAA vs. seeking treatment.

  13. Lets not rush to judgement. This may of been a case of spatial disorientation. I experienced a situation early in training at night in which I found myself in a spiral. With basic training for Instrument Flying I was fortunate to recover.

  14. Preliminary report:



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