Broken engine part could hold clue to fatal airplane crash near Dowagiac
Federal investigators say a broken engine part might have caused the airplane crash that killed a Marcellus hobby pilot last month near Dowagiac.
83-year-old Richard Martin was killed Sept. 10 when his home-assembled experimental plane crashed in a heavily wooded area about four miles north of Dowagiac Municipal Airport. Investigators have estimated, based on the amount of fuel left in the plane and the time he took off from the airport, that he crashed after about an hour in the air.
Searchers found Martin in the plane four days later. It was lying upside down and had damaged the tops of 100-foot-tall trees on impact, according to a preliminary report released by the National Transportation Safety Board.
The report notes that investigators found the engine’s ignition distributor rotor was broken and had separated from the drive shaft. The report includes detailed photos of the broken part, and notes that the engine started and ran normally after the part was replaced during testing.
But an NTSB spokesman told WVPE that investigators have not drawn any conclusions. They won’t do that until they file their final report, which could take a year or two.