Socata TB-20 Trinidad

On August 24, 2007, about 1330 eastern daylight time, N96DF, registered as a Socata TB-20 Trinidad airplane, piloted by a private pilot, was presumed to have sustained substantial damage on impact with Lake Huron near Cheboygan, Michigan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. No visual flight rules (VFR) or instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was on file. The pilot sustained fatal injuries and the passenger is presumed to have sustained fatal injuries. The flight originated from the Mackinac Island Airport on Mackinac Island, Michigan, and was destined for the Huron County Memorial Airport near Bad Axe, Michigan.

A pilot who spoke with the accident pilot before the accident flight and who was departing Mackinac Island Airport about the same time as the accident pilot, in part, reported:

“On the ride to the airport the pilot and I discussed the weather, her
plans, and the fact that the AWOS (Automated Weather Observing
System) ceiling reports were incorrect. I was quite puzzled over
the pilot's decision to depart VFR. They did not seem to be in any
great hurry to depart - I believe they were going to her parents and I
don't recall any discussion of any event that they needed to reach at
a specific time. I stated I was getting a void time clearance off the
field as I didn't think I could maintain VFR long enough to pick up
my clearance. I asked her why she didn't file IFR and she said they
wanted to fly down the coastline to show the passenger the scenery.”

Another pilot inbound to MCD, in part, reported:

“We were on a IFR flight plan and had cancelled since other aircraft
were holding for the Approach into MCD. The ASOS (Automated Surface Observing Systems) was reporting clear below 12000 ft and 4 miles in haze. ... We reported our position on unicom and heard the Trinidad call reporting departing the west runway and advising that she would be south bound. I asked the Trinidad what the ceiling was and she replied it to be about 1000 ft overcast. To the southwest of the island we were in marginal VFR at 1300 ft. The ceiling
did look lower to the south/southwest of the island. We heard no other radio communications from the Trinidad.”

The Michigan State Police reported that their Underwater Recovery Unit searched for the occupants and airplane in an area where a witness heard what he believed was an airplane impacting the lake. The unit also searched areas identified by drift calculations and by side-scan sonar. The search did not find the airplane. Cushion parts of the airplane washed ashore near Cheboygan, Michigan. The pilot's body was found in the Straits of Mackinac east of the Mackinac Bridge on October 8, 2007.

The aircraft is still missing.

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