BY MATT TROUTMAN
BOYNE CITY — A pilot and his passenger perished when their small plane crashed near an airport in Charlevoix County.
The crash occurred Monday at 7:12 a.m. in a wooded area outside Boyne City, about 45 miles northeast of Traverse City. The Associated Press reported the single-engine Mooney M20 crashed shortly after take off from Boyne City Municipal Airport.
Charlevoix County Sheriff Don Schneider said responders recovered the bodies of two Birmingham men, ages 51 and 38, at the crash scene. The victims’ names weren’t immediately released until their family members were notified.
“There was a fire after impact, but I don’t want to say ‘explosion,’” Schneider said.
The plane’s flight plan showed it was headed to Oakland-Troy Airport north of Detroit. Schneider said he didn’t know what communications the pilot had with the airport before the crash or how weather impacted the short flight if at all.
Schneider said harsh weather conditions hampered first responders’ efforts because the site was only accessible by snowmobile. He said a Charlevoix County road commission truck had to plow a half-mile trail into the crash site northeast of Addis Road for police and fire vehicles.
“The snow was deep. It was snowing and the temperature was only about 8 above,” he said.
Weather could delay the federal crash investigation. Schneider said Federal Aviation Administration investigators from Grand Rapids were en route Monday, but a National Transportation Safety Board official couldn’t fly from Chicago until Wednesday because of flight cancellations.
In November 2012, a Mancelona man died when his Cessna 310B crashed in rural Antrim County near the Lakes of the North airstrip. NTSB investigators ruled out weather, but haven’t yet released a final crash report.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.