Friday, November 05, 2021

Van's RV-6, N16TG: Fatal accident occurred November 05, 2021 near Clare County Airport (80D), Harrison, Michigan

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 Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Grand Rapids, Michigan 

Location: Harrison, Michigan
Accident Number: CEN22FA029
Date and Time: November 5, 2021, 09:37 Local 
Registration: N16TG
Aircraft: Vans RV Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On November 5, 2021, about 0937 eastern daylight time, a Van’s RV-6 airplane, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Harrison, Michigan. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) data indicated that the airplane departed runway 27L at Oakland International Airport (PTK), Pontiac, Michigan, at 0846.

After departure the airplane climbed in a right turn and flew northwest for about 12 nm, then turned north for about 5 nm, then back to a northwest heading. The airplane reached a cruise altitude of about 3,000 ft and remained on the northwest heading until track data was lost about 0930. The last ADS-B position was about 8.4 miles and 260° from the accident site. The data showed that the airplane was in straight and level flight before the end of the data. The accident site was located about 1 mile south of the approach end of runway 36 at the Clare County Airport (80D), Harrison, Michigan.

The airplane impacted the back yard of a residence. Impact signatures indicated that the airplane struck the ground about 45° nose low. The initial impact point was located directly beneath the airplane. The airplane remained predominately intact with all major airframe components still connected. The engine was still partially attached to the fuselage. The 2-blade wood core propeller was still attached to the engine. One blade was broken off near the blade root. Neither blade was splintered and were predominately intact. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Vans
Registration: N16TG
Model/Series: RV-6 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: Yes
Operator: On file 
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC 
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: 
Altimeter Setting: 
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Departure Point:

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: 44.032792,-84.810053

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

Theodore "Ted" Ernest Gauthier
April 3, 1954 - November 5, 2021

Theodore "Ted" Ernest Gauthier
April 3, 1954 - November 5, 2021

Theodore (Ted) Gauthier of Pontiac, Michigan, passed away on Friday, November 5, 2021 at 67 years of age. Loving husband of Lynn Gauthier for 46 years, father to Dawn (Mike) McKenzie and grandfather to Evan and Owen McKenzie.

Ted was born on April 3, 1954 in Pontiac, Michigan to Gilbert and Laurette (Jolicoeur) Gauthier. He is also survived by his brothers Guy (Sherry) Gauthier, Joey (Pat) Gauthier, Gary (Kay) Gauthier, Dan Gauthier, Marty (Cara) Gauthier, godson and nephew Travis (Wendy) Gauthier, and nieces, nephews and many extended family and friends. Son-in-law of the late Jack and Elsie Martin of Petaluma, California.

Ted graduated from Walled Lake Central High School in 1972 and went on to earn a B.S. in Emergency Medicine and a B.S. in Nursing from Madonna University.

He was a firefighter and paramedic for nearly 30 years with the West Bloomfield Fire Department where he became Fire Inspector and then Fire Marshal and retired in 2006. He served as deputy chief of Bloomfield Village Fire Department for 12 years and retired in 2018. He was also a Registered Nurse and worked part-time at Detroit-area hospitals on his days off from the fire department.

Ted had many passions and hobbies. For 45 years, he was a commercial hot air balloon pilot and instructor, licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration (F.A.A). He was the fourth hot air balloon pilot in the state of Michigan when he earned his license in 1975. He went on to get his family involved in the sport, as four of his brothers, his daughter and nephew also went on to earn their pilot’s license. They were known to fly together at hot air balloon festivals and competitions around the country. Ted competed in and won many events in the U.S., and even flew in Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Japan. For several years, he was a F.A.A. Designated Flight Examiner, helping dozens of people earn their hot air balloon pilot’s license. Ted even built his own hot air balloon in 1998.

Ted was a skilled private fixed wing airplane pilot for 43 years and a FAA Designated Airworthiness Representative for 21 years. His spent much of his time at the Oakland-Pontiac International Airport with his airplane buddies, including best friends Terry Kohler and Dave Pohl.

Ted was a talented wood worker and even handcrafted two beautiful wooden kayaks as well as a wooden boat, a Glen-L Zip 15' outboard runaboat made of Mahogany and wrapped in fiberglass that won several awards. He enjoyed working on his CNC machine and hosting instructional webinars for the CNC community.

He was full of energy to make the most of every day and was always the first to drop everything to help friends, family, neighbors and strangers. Ted was a lifelong learner and teacher. He was also a modern day MacGyver who could figure out how fix nearly everything and solve most problems, and he took care of everyone around him. He loved golfing, boating and spending time on Sylvan Lake with his family and attending his grandsons’ baseball and soccer games.

Ted was an incredible husband, father, grandfather, brother, teacher and friend who touched so many lives. His love will stay forever in our hearts and his impact will live boldly within everyone who knew him. He will be deeply missed.

Donations can be made in Ted Gauthier’s memory to Operation Good Cheer or the Balloon Federation of America Junior Balloonist Summer Camp Program.

Funeral Services will be held on Monday, November 15, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. at Orchard Lake Community Church, Presbyterian, 5171 Commerce Road, Orchard Lake. The family will receive friends on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Riverside Chapel, Simpson-Modetz Funeral Home, 5630 Pontiac Lake Road, Waterford.


  1. I have known Ted for 42 years. He was a professional pilot, flying both airplanes and lighter than air. He was an FAA examiner and gave me my practical tests for both private and commercial LTA. I have to believe that something may have been wrong with him as I just can’t see him making the kind of mistakes that would result in this type of accident. The investigation will likely find the reason. I’ll miss him a lot as a part of my aviation life.

    1. Thanks for post. The text says DAR or Designated Airworthiness Representative . DAR is more engineering side, certification of aircraft and components. He was a Designated Pilot Examiners (DPE). That makes sense. To be a DAR you need to typically work in the aircraft industry, usually engineering, certification of aircraft, engines or components. A DAR is also limited in what they have authority to approve based on their experience and FAA approval. Sorry to hear about this loss. I remember one of my DPE died of natural causes, he was getting up there in age. Even still it had an impact. This was the guy who gave me instrument and commercial multi ratings.

    2. Thanks for post. The text says DAR or Designated Airworthiness Representative . DAR is more engineering. He was a Designated Pilot Examiners (DPE). That makes sense. Sorry to hear about this loss. I remember one of my DPE died of natural causes, he was getting up there in age. Even still it had an impact. Best wishes to his family and friends.

    3. Ted was a DPE for about ten years, before becoming a DAR-Amateur Built aircraft inspector.

  2. Condolences Pat and to all of Ted's friends and family. Obviously, something went very bad here.

  3. Crash location, reported as area of Rosina Road and Townline Road, consistent with photos:

  4. Just learned about this crash from his brothers yesterday - Ted was a beloved man, respected as a true friend and gentleman, kind of a senior father figure in the Michigan ballooning community - wherever you are now Ted, we miss you, you were a role model and everyone who knew you loved you - Raj Kattil