Van Buren Township Two pilots flying Sunday at the Ypsilanti Air Show were circling for a second takeoff when they experienced “difficulty” with the plane’s engine and ejected before crashing in the parking lot of a nearby apartment complex, a National Transportation Safety Board investigator said. Monday.
“The airplane went one way down the runway. … There was going to be a total of three passes, culminating in the landing. They were going around for the second pass when they experienced difficulty,” NTSB senior air safety investigator John said. Brannen.
After the plane hit the ground, it traveled about 500 feet through trees and landed near Waverly at Lake Apartments in Van Buren Township.
According to Federal Aviation Administration records, the pilot — Daniel Filer of Texas — suffered “serious but not life-threatening injuries,” Brannen said during a press conference Monday. The co-pilot suffered minor injuries. It was unclear whether the two pilots were hospitalized Monday.
The cause of Sunday’s crash is still unknown, but new details emerged as a team of experts began an investigation on Monday. The plane “suffered an engine loss,” Brannen said.
A team arrived at the scene on Monday morning, documented it and coordinated with rescue crews to take the plane out for further investigation. A preliminary report is expected in about 10 days, but the final report could take up to two years.
“Right now, all the information is preliminary and we can’t make any conclusions,” Brannen said. “It’s a good result that both pilots survived and there were no injuries on the ground.”
He added that the Environmental Protection Agency has officials on site to address any fuel contamination issues.
Two pilots ejected from a Russian MiG-23UB fighter jet mid-air at Willow Run Airport around 4:15 p.m. Sunday and were rescued from Lake Belleville, the Wayne County Airport Authority said. The pilots declared an emergency and immediately evacuated, the NTSP said.
Brannen said the fact that the plane was Russian would complicate the investigation.
“The fact that it’s a Russian military aircraft and civilian aircraft don’t have what we call an ‘aircraft certificate’ with the manufacturer’s details that you can go to for help makes it even more difficult,” Brannen said.
Many factors, including altitude, speed and type of aircraft, can go into why pilots decide to eject, Brannen said.
“All those different factors play a part in it,” he said. “It varies from case to case.”
NTSB investigations aim to determine probable cause in traffic accidents. In some cases, regulators recommend changes to equipment manufacturers, companies, or state and local governments to prevent future accidents.
Further:The plane crashed during thunderstorms over the Michigan Airshow finale at Willow Run
Further:Here’s what we know about the MiG-23UB that went down at Michigan’s premier air show
In video footage of the event, two figures can be seen falling as clouds of black smoke erupt from the plane. The airport authority said the jet crashed into unmanned vehicles in the apartment complex’s parking lot.
According to Brannen and FAA records, the aircraft is a fixed-wing, single-engine retired Russian military aircraft built in 1981. Because manufacturers often help investigators determine what went wrong in accidents, Brannen said, it’s “even more challenging.” “In this kind of thing, I don’t know what kind of support we’re going to get,” he said.
This year’s Sunday marks the 25th anniversary of the Thunder Over Michigan Air Show, which began at 3 p.m. Just before the show began, Yankee Air Museum President and CEO Kevin Walsh said the 55 modern and vintage military aircraft that will make up the show are being requested from around the world. This year’s theme is “Greatest of IT,” including a performance by the F-22 Raptor Eye.
Shocked, the Yankee Air Museum, which hosts the airshow as the museum’s annual fundraiser, declined to comment further on Monday’s incident, deferring to the Wayne County Airport Authority.
Randy Wimbley, a spokesman for the Wayne County Airport Authority, said the FAA has informed them it is preparing to turn the investigation over to the NTSB. The FAA does not hold news conferences about accidents, he added.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingle, D-Ann Arbor, said she has been in contact with authorities about the crash.
“It appears at this time that both pilots are safe and there are no human injuries,” Dingle said in a release. “Completing comprehensive physical assessments to ensure everyone’s safety is now a top priority.”
The plane crashed into a silver pickup truck near Unit 18 of the subdivision and most of the plane, its wheel and pockets of dark brown grass were still visible at the crash site Monday.
Crews were picking up debris Monday morning, and 28-year-old Emilio Cancel said he had seen crews overnight with spotlights since the plane crashed.
Cancel, who has lived in a unit at Waverly on the Lake for four years, said she first saw the plane crash in the field from her balcony.
His unit is on the periphery of the accident site. He ran out of the scene to see the grass and trees on fire as the plane went down.
“We were watching TV and we heard a big ‘boom’ and then we were like ‘what was that?’ “I looked out and all of a sudden there was this ‘boom,'” he said. “The biggest fireball I’ve ever seen.”
Cancel added: “It was crazy. I felt the shock. Our whole building was shaking, it was like a bomb. … I noticed it was a plane and I was worried for the pilots. I don’t know where the pilots were evacuated. The whole field was on fire. Everything. They caught fire.
He believes that because the rocks were planted near a spring, the fire did not spread across the field.
“I had a friend in Unit 18 who had to move out of there,” she said. “Luckily, the building didn’t catch fire.”
Paul Skrzycki, 72, watched through binoculars as crews picked up trash Monday morning, along with a few residents who took photos.
Skrzyski was watching the first air show at the Diamonback Saloon in Belleville. He said he saw the plane burst into flames overhead and heard a screeching sound as the pilots ejected.
“I watched the whole thing. I didn’t sleep well last night because I didn’t know they were fired at the time,” Skryski said. “It was so black smoke, I couldn’t get close to it … I could definitely smell that, and I’m going to remember it for a long time.”
Skryski and his wife have lived in the area for 40 years and said it hit “too close to home.”
“I don’t stay at air shows anymore. “It’s always a concern for all of us … lucky they didn’t hit an apartment building … how lucky it didn’t go onto (I-)94.”