Small plane crash kills 4 at SE Michigan airport

Pilot, 3 passengers killed

6/21/2013
ASSOCIATED PRESS
This frame grab from video provided by WDIV, WJBK, and WXYZ, shows emergency personnel examining a plane crash after a pilot and three passengers were killed shortly after takeoff.
This frame grab from video provided by WDIV, WJBK, and WXYZ, shows emergency personnel examining a plane crash after a pilot and three passengers were killed shortly after takeoff.

WATERFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. — A pilot and three passengers were killed Friday after a small plane crashed shortly after taking off from an airport northwest of Detroit.

Emergency personnel looks over the scene of a plane crash at Oakland International Airport in Waterford, Mich.
Emergency personnel looks over the scene of a plane crash at Oakland International Airport in Waterford, Mich.

Airport spokesman Dave VanderVeen said the Cessna 172 went down about 1:40 p.m. Friday at Oakland County International Airport in Waterford Township. Three people aboard the private, non-business-related flight were killed instantly, while the fourth died later at a hospital.

VanderVeen said three of the victims were male and one was female, but didn’t have names or ages.

Transmissions between a 19-year-old pilot and an airport control tower point to his small plane being too heavy before it crashed after takeoff northwest of Detroit.

The pilot can be heard on liveatc.net saying “we’re a little over weight ... we’re going to have to come back and land” before the plane crashed.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford confirms that the recording is an archive of the tower conversation.

The pilot was Troy Brothers. The other victims were his 53-year-old mother Sandra Haley, 58-year-old stepfather James Haley, and 34-year-old brother-in-law Jamie Jose (JOHS).

An airport spokesman says the pilot reached an altitude of about 100 feet before requesting to return

“It’s a very sad day for the airport,” said VanderVeen, the county’s director of central services, who previously managed the airport for 25 years. He added that the airport’s last fatal crash was in 2006.

VanderVeen said the pilot took off Friday from a 5,600-foot runway designed for smaller planes and reached an altitude of about 100 feet before requesting permission to return. The plane crashed in a field at the end of a runway seconds after takeoff, he said.

“This was a pleasure flight as opposed to a commercial flight," VanderVeen said. "We’ve not been able to confirm if a flight plan was filed.”

However, filing on flight plan on this type of flight is not required, he added.

The Federal Aviation Administration was en route to the airport and the National Transportation and Safety Board is expected to arrive Saturday.

The Oakland County airport is used for corporate, business and private flying, VanderVeen said. It also has air charters and air freight, and is the state’s second busiest airport after Detroit Metropolitan Airport, which is in the Detroit suburb of Romulus.

In 2006, a flight instructor and his student were killed when a single-engine plane belonging to a flight school crashed at the airport.