The National Transportation Safety Board has issued a report on its investigation into the single-engine plane crash at the Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport March 5.
Airport director Matt Leitner said the airport was cleared of responsibility "as the plane never touched a paved airport surface."
The report states the crash took place at 8:15 a.m. while the weather conditions were listed as moderate blowing snow with a viability of .75 miles. The pilot, who had 7,245 hours of flight time in all types of aircraft, was making an instrument approach.
"The pilot reported that upon reaching the decision altitude on a GPS instrument approach, he saw the runway end identifier lights and continued the approach. Shortly thereafter the lights disappeared and then reappeared. He continued the approach and landing, thinking he was lined up with the runway by using the runway edge lights for reference. Upon touching down, the airplane dug into the snow and flipped over resulting in substantial damage to the wings and tail. The airplane landed about 225 ft left of the runway. The pilot reported no mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that would have precluded normal operation," the report said.
The pilot was described in the report as a 45-year-old man who holds a commercial and flight instructor certificate and is instrument rated. He was the lone occupant of the plane which had left Milwaukee an hour earlier. He was seriously injured in the crash.
Leitner said in an interview Friday the cause was pretty open and shut.
"It was pilot error, he missed the runway," Leitner said.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Leitner said the airport is still welcoming two flights a day to and from Minneapolis/St. Paul.
Jamie Taylor may be reached via email at jamie@rivernews online.com.
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