GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The final report from the National Transportation Safety Board found that pilot error was the cause of a 2021 plane crash that killed four people on Beaver Island.
The completed report was filed Thursday. Investigators relied upon key witness testimony to add up the facts of the crash, which said the plane was “wallowing” — or appeared to be without power and was flying nose up. Investigators believe the pilot slowed down too much on his approach toward Welke Airport and when he reacted by trying to pull the nose of the plane up, it sent the aircraft into an aerodynamic stall and a spin.
The plane was at too low of an altitude for the pilot to straighten out the aircraft and it fell from approximately 100 feet. The investigation confirmed that there was no engine failure or any “pre-impact” signs of distress for the plane, its engines or its systems.
Pilot William Jullian had four passengers on November 13, 2021: Beaver Island residents Kate Leese and Adam Kendall, and Mike Perdue from Gaylord and his 11-year-old daughter Laney. Laney was the sole survivor. She was airlifted from the scene and brought to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, then rehabilitated from her injuries at Mary Free Bed.
Her mother, Christie Perdue, said Laney only had major injuries to one side of her body, and credits her late husband with protecting Laney from the brunt of the impact.
“Laney told me in the hospital that her last memory is that Dad just grabbed her and held her really, really tight, and in my heart I know that protected her,” Perdue told “Good Morning America” in a televised interview.
The NTSB report says Jullian was hired by Island Airways in March of 2021 and had completed his latest proficiency check in July of that year. He had accrued more than 2,900 hours of flight time prior to the crash, including 136 hours inside the make and model of the plane involved in the crash.