Traverse City Record-Eagle

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November 27, 2012

Weather ruled out as cause of Antrim airplane crash

Investigators believe craft crashed when conditions were fine

MANCELONA — Bad weather isn't to blame for a plane crash that killed an Antrim County man, a federal investigator said.

Pilot Roger William Crawford, 68, of Mancelona, died Nov. 21 when his Cessna 310B plunged into a wooded area about a mile from the Lakes of the North community airstrip.

The aircraft wreckage was discovered Friday morning as snow flurries blanketed the region. Strong winds were reported throughout northern Michigan the day prior, leading to speculation the crash was somehow weather-related.

Mike Folkerts, a crash investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, said Monday investigators now believe Crawford's plane crashed Wednesday between 5 and 6 p.m., when weather conditions were pleasant.

"I can tell you weather was not a factor," Folkerts said. "He took the aircraft out for a personal flight for a bit, to fly the aircraft for a short time. Witnesses said he liked to fly right around sunset and enjoyed that time of day."

Folkerts said Crawford was an experienced pilot, a retired United Airlines captain with more than 19,000 hours of flight time.

"We are going to make sure we look at all the factors that are relevant and look at any safety issues that could be at play," Folkerts said.

The plane's engines and mechanical systems will be studied.

An autopsy and toxicology tests are pending.

It is too early to discern possible causes, and it could take a year to release a formal cause of the crash, Folkerts said.

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