NEW HUDSON, MI – According to a report released Thursday by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), weather conditions and landing complications may have contributed to a January plane crash that killed three Michigan residents.
Pilot David S. Compo, 60, former president of the Home Builders Association of Southeastern Michigan, his wife Michele Compo, 55, and their son Dawson, 18, died in the January 2 crash.
The plane, a Piper PA-24-250, crashed into a house in Oakland County in a neighborhood west of the Pontiac Trail and Grand River Avenue in the Orchards of Lyon subdivision sometime before 4 p.m.
According to the NTSB report, there was no record of the pilot having received a weather briefing or submitted a flight plan on the day of the crash prior to departure from Cherokee County Airport in Canton, Georgia.
The NTSB report doesn’t definitely say what caused the crash, but does suggest that cloud cover may have played a role as Compo did not have an instrumentation rating, an advanced qualification where pilots navigate the flight deck with instruments when none Exterior views are available.
What follows is Compo’s interactions with air traffic control personnel prior to the crash, according to the NTSB report.
Compo contacted Detroit’s Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) at 7,000 feet and asked if there had been any reports of icing in the clouds at Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti.
The pilot replied that there had been no reports and that the cloud bases were 90 meters above the ground before he asked Compo about his intentions. Compo replied that he would “give it (the approach) a chance,” the report said.
He added that in the event of a missed approach, he would be heading to Oakland County International Airport in Pontiac. The pilot repeated that the cloud bases in the area should be 100 meters.
Compo was instructed to hold 2,700 feet or higher and was instructed to fly a course to intercept the final approach course. The controller also asked Compo to contact the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF) and report if he missed an approach.
The aircraft continued to descend to about 1,900 feet before appearing to climb slightly to about 2,000 feet before entering two descending left spirals with decreasing airspeed, according to the report.
Track data was lost about half a mile north of the airport where the crash occurred. There was a post-impact fire that destroyed the plane and severely damaged a house, the report said, before it was found there were no floor injuries, but a cat in the house was fatally injured.