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Accident Report Detail

Executive Jet Aviation, Inc., Lear Jet L23A, N434EJ

Executive Summary

On May 9, 1970, Lear Jet N434E3, operated by Executive Jet Aviation, Inc., was on a nonschebuled air taxi flight from Detroit, Michigan to Pellston, Michigan. The aircraft crashed a t approximately 2128 during an instrument approach to the Emmet County Airport at Pellston. Both cremmbers and the four passengers aboard received fatal injuries.

The aircraft made initial contact with trees on a hill located approximately 2.25 miles southwest of the approach end of Runway 5. A swath approximately 45 feet wide and 254 ieet long, on a true heading of 107°, had been cut through the trees by the aircraft . The highest mean sea level (m.s.l.) elevation of the trees at the break points was 886 feet.

The aircraft remained airborne for approximately one-half mile, following initial tree impact, before striking trees again, after which the aircraft crashed to the ground and burned. The swath through the trees at the crash site was approximately 269 feet long on a true heading of 86°. The m.s.1. elevation at the highest point of tree contact in the crash area was 809 feet . The main wreckage was contained in a space approximately 50 feet wide and 130 feet long. The ground elevation at the crash site is 730 feet . The latitude is 45°33'43" N, and the longitude is 84°50'17" W.

The area over which the aircraft flew while circling for landing, is sparsely populated, and none of the runways is equipped with approach lights. Consequently, few visual references are available for a night approach.

The 2133 weather at Pellston was 400 feet scattered clouds, measured ceiling 800 feet overcast, visibility 7 miles, wind from 090° 10 knots, altimeter setting 29.76 inches.

Probable Cause

The Board determines the probable cause of this accident to be illusions produced by the lack of visual cues during a circling approach over unlighted terrain at night to a runway not equipped with approach lights or other visual approach aids. These illusions , which made the pilot think that he was higher than his true position, were made more acceptable to him because of a strong possibility of an erroneously high indication on his altimeter.

Accident Location: Pellston , MI    
Accident Date: 5/9/1970
Accident ID: AAR7103

Date Adopted: 12/22/1970
NTSB Number: AAR-71-03
NTIS Number: PB-197607

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