NTSB unable to determine cause of plane crash that killed 3

National Transportation Safety Board

The National Transportation Safety Board says the cause of a plane crash in Caledonia, Minnesota, that killed three men will remain a mystery.

The plane was traveling from Troy, Michigan, to Houston County airport in Caledonia when it crashed into a field in the middle of the afternoon last November, a half-mile from the airport.

The weather didn’t suggest any problems, the plane had fuel, and air traffic controllers reported no communication to suggest the pilot was having any issues.

And yet it crashed 500 feet short of its destination.

Killed in the crash were Joel Alan Garrett, 79, of Troy, Michigan; Dale Edward Garrett, 49, of Berkley, Michigan; and John Paul Bergeron, 50, of Birmingham, Michigan.

Survivor, Joseph Stevens, 61, of Bloomfield, Michigan, doesn’t remember the crash nor know why they would have landed in the Minnesota city.

“He said when they were together generally Dale would fly,  and they’d pick a place about half way to their destination, to  exercise the dogs, use the restroom, top the airplane off with fuel, and then continue on they’re way,” an investigator’s memo noted.  “He said typically, they’d fly over the airport, [get the landing direction] and  then enter the traffic pattern for the landing; he never observed them do anything unsafe, thought they were very meticulous with the airplane,  nor did he recall ever having a problem with the airplane.”

In submitting its final report this month, the NTSB ruled the crash was caused by “the pilot’s loss of control for reasons that could not be determined because the post-accident airplane examination did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.”

  • joetron2030

    Can’t help wondering if the cause was an acute medical emergency for the pilot (heart attack, etc.) that the lone survivor won’t remember due to his memory loss.

  • APS Texas

    Unfortunately, loss of control in flight is the leading cause of fatalities for both general aviation crashes such as this, but also for worldwide commercial airline aviation. There can be many different causes. A lack of certain initial lessons in basic airmanship along with increasing reliance on automation combine to make this a pilot-centered problem that is best impacted by specific training (known as upset prevention and recovery training) designed to counter the threat. As someone who has lost a family member due to an aircraft accident, I am very sorry for the friends and families of those involved in the accident, regardless of the cause.

    Randall Brooks
    Aviation Performance Solutions