Preliminary report reveals pilot errors may have led to deadly Lyon Township plane crash

Posted at 11:10 PM, Jan 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-28 23:32:27-05

NEW HUDSON, Mich. (WXYZ) — Low visibility and a difficult landing for the pilot may have factored into the early January plane crash in Lyon Township that claimed the lives of a Northville family, according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

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David Compo, his wife Michele and their son Dawson were flying back home from a trip to Georgia on Jan. 2 when their plane crashed into a home in New Hudson. The family inside the home escaped safely. The Compo family did not survive.

In a preliminary report released by the NTSB Thursday, investigators found that there was no record of the pilot, David Compo, obtaining a weather briefing before flying. The report also revealed that there was no flight plan filed on the day of the accident.

David and his family departed from Cherokee County Airport in Georgia on a private plane. The NTSB adds that he was not "instrument rated," which is a type of certification where pilots learn to fly using only the instruments in a cockpit which is helpful in scenarios where the pilot may not be able to clearly see the ground.

David had been in contact with the Detroit TRACON (Terminal Radar Approach Control) for a landing at Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti. The two discussed low visibility due to clouds and ice. David asked about ice and was told by the controller that there hadn't been any icing over the past hour. Additionally, the controller stated cloud bases were at 300 feet. The controller asked David what his intentions were. The report says David responded that he would "give it (the approach) a shot." The controller then repeated that the cloud bases were reported at 300 feet.

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The pilot notified David that if he missed the landing, there was another opportunity at Oakland County International Airport in Pontiac.

David was then cleared to descend to 4,000 feet, then 3,000 before being told to maintain the aircraft at 2,700 feet or above until he was able to reach the final approach course, a release states.

At some point during the communication, the controller told the pilot to contact the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF), and to report back if he missed an approach.

The airplane then descended to about 1,900 feet, then climbed back up to 2,000 feet before it spiraled and decreased airspeed. The controller lost track of the flight data where the crash occurred, which was a half-mile north of the airport.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the pilot had an opportunity to land at Willow Run airport. That was incorrect. The controller stated a back-up landing was available at Oakland County International Airport in Pontiac. This has been updated.