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Low Pass Led To Fatal Crash

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The NTSB says a misjudged high-speed, low-altitude pass led to the crash of a Piper Malibu that killed the pilot and two passengers last year in Monroe, Mich. (PDF) The board said pilot Rick Howell, 58, of nearby LaSalle tried to raise his flight instructor on the radio to alert him that he was doing a high-speed pass before aiming the big single at the runway on March 29, 2011. The NTSB counted 37 propeller gouges in the runway in its investigation. The gear and flaps were retracted. The aircraft stayed airborne long enough to crash into a neighboring soccer field, narrowly missing a children's playground and tennis complex, where a high school team was practicing.

Also killed were Nate Brahier, 30, and Jeremy Tate, 40, both of Ohio. The three were returning from a business trip to Pennsylvania. The NTSB said it found nothing mechanically wrong with the airplane but it did find evidence of the use of unapproved cough and pain medications in the tissues of the pilot. Toxicology tests also found the prescription drug Nortriptyline in his system.

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