On July 28, 1993, at 0117 eastern daylight time (EDT), a Beech A- 36, N4518S, registered to Randy E. Bickmann of Spring Park, Minnesota, and piloted by an instrument rated private pilot, was destroyed during a collision with trees and terrain while executing an ILS approach to Runway 31 at the Hancock/Houghton County Memorial Airport, Houghton, Michigan. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal 14 CFR Part 91 flight was operating on an IFR flight plan. The two occupants received serious injuries. The flight departed from Saginaw, Michigan, at 0057 EDT. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
While enroute, the pilot of N4518S asked the FAA's Minneapolis Air Route Traffic Control Center's (ARTCC) controller for weather information because his airplane's "...storm scope is ah lighting up pretty bad out here." At the conclusion of the conversation the pilot stated he was going direct to Marquette, Michigan, from his present position. As the flight progressed toward Marquette, the pilot called the ARTCC and stated: "Ah look the way the storm scope is painting up here ah we're gonna ah go into Houghton put her down in Houghton for the night."
N4518S was cleared to the Houghton airport and told to descend to 3,100 feet mean sea level (MSL). After confirming the descent altitude, ARTCC gave the pilot the Houghton airport weather report that included the airport's altimeter setting of 29.75 in. HG. The pilot's response did not include a repeat of the altimeter setting. Before this radio transmission, the pilot had been given three altimeter settings while enroute. In each instance the pilot repeated the altimeter setting.
At 0105 EDT ARTCC advised the pilot that radar contact was lost and a "...change to advisory frequency approved if you can't raise me I'm going to have you cancel with Flight Service on one two three-point six." The pilot of N4518S acknowledged ARTCC's transmission. No further radio transmissions were heard from N4518S. During an interview with the pilot he stated he recalled making a go-around during the approach. He said he did not have the auto-pilot engaged and that the landing gear and flaps were extended. He said he decided to go around because the airport was not in sight. The pilot was asked at what altitude he decided to initiate the go-around maneuver. He stated regularly uses a 300-foot decision height on ILS approaches he flies. The decision height for the ILS approach at the Houghton airport is 200 feet above ground level (AGL).
The pilot rated passenger on the accident airplane possessed a commercial pilot certificate with an instrument instructor rating. This individual stated the airplane was on the ILS approach when it encountered a strong downdraft about 500 to 600 feet AGL, just as the middle marker was becoming audible. He stated the full power applied by the pilot did not stop the descent. The Houghton County Sheriff's Department Incident Report confirms the passenger's statement regarding encountering a down draft while on final approach. The report also states the passenger recalled a descent rate of 500 FPM while on the approach.
During a second interview, the passenger stated the pilot initiated a missed approach. He stated the pilot applied elevator back pressure just before colliding with the trees. The passenger was asked if the pilot uses the auto-pilot. He stated he rarely used it. He stated the pilot is very smooth and has shown a very good instrument scan pattern regularly.
N4518S collided with trees and terrain approximately 1/2 mile east-southeast of Hancock/Houghton County Memorial Airport's Runway 31 approach threshold.
N4518S's altimeter was observed to have a setting of 29.98. The airplane's radios were not set to the accident airport's radio frequency. Recorded weather information for the Houghton County Airport showed an altimeter setting of 29.73 in. HG. during the approximate time frame N4518S crashed.
Investigation into the previous 24 hours of pilot and airplane activity revealed the airplane was refueled with 49.1 gallons of AVGAS on July 26, 1993. N4518S departed Hartford, Connecticut, on July 27, 1993. The pilot purchased two quarts of oil on July 27, 1993. During the evening of July 27, 1993, N4518S stopped at Saginaw, Michigan for refueling. The airplane received 57.0 gallons of AVGAS before departing. Copies of the receipts are appended to this report. N4518S's actual departure time and route from Hartford, Connecticut, was not determined.