Three People, 53 Dogs Survive Snowy Golf Course Crash


All 56 occupants of a twin-engine turboprop (possibly a Metroliner) were rescued after it crash-landed on a golf course near Milwaukee in a snowstorm. Three people and 53 dogs were on the plane. The dogs were in in danger of being euthanized and were being flown from Louisiana to Wisconsin for adoption. There were no serious injuries among them. “I think we were all unsure about what we were going to be arriving to but very grateful that everyone is safe,” Maggie Tate-Techtmann, the director of organizational development at Human Animal Welfare Society in Waukesha County, told local media.

The plane came down Tuesday morning and Western Lakes Golf Club manager Jason Hoelz described the scene with a golfer’s eye for detail. “There [were] a couple employees working on the course that heard this plane coming down and witnessed it hitting the fifth green, crashing between two trees, (going) through a marsh and another 100 feet through the second hole fairway and onto the third hole, where it uprooted another tree and came to a rest,” Hoelz told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “In total, it skidded around a few hundred yards.” All the dogs are being seen by vets but there was no report on the condition of the people.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. I just drove thru there yesterday. Anyone flying in that Wx woulda been nuts! The visibility driving was pretty bad and I thought just that about flying.

    • Cant imagine “why” they were flown at all; especially across country from LA to WI, on a twin turboprop, in bad weather. It almosts begs tyhe question of what’s in the cargo hold.

  2. Fortunately there were no fatalities. The accident occurred 3.5 miles from the end of runway 10 and I am assuming the aircraft was on the approach for runway 10 with weather at or near minimums. Metroliner’s have a long history of flying commuter schedules in inclement weather which would lead me to believe there is more to the story with regard to causal factors. The accident investigation should provide more insight to the flying community at some point in the future.

  3. I recall that Doctor Dave’s Sport Pilot Encyclopedia sez
    “It is NEVER too early to speculate… just too early to KNOW!”
    so here I go:
    1. ran it out of fuel [shamefully the most common cause of GA wrecks]
    2. mismanaged duct deice and/or igniters [both prior Garrett TPE-331 issues]

  4. I live near there. The weather was near minimums but definitely flyable (and landable) for that aircraft. The emergency landing happened 2.5 nm short of the runway, no declaration to tower, and spilled something like 300 gallons of Jet-A on the course. So not a missed approach, not out of fuel, and no emergency declared. Whatever happened likely happened quickly. Maybe mechanical or icing?

    Will be interested to hear more on this one.

  5. I spent the better part of 53 years flying 135 and 91 in the great lakes. I transported boat-crews for my client to/from great lakes freighters at various ports on the five great lakes. MKE was a popular destination for my client. My client was also the largest cement plant in world who operated 7 massive cement freighters.

    It was Christmas Eve 1979 1000PM when my phone rang. I was in the middle of something and was also about to go to the midnight church service. The hysterical voice at the other end of the phone hollered out, “Jeff, this is Norm…I need to get to Milwaukee now….the E.M. Ford broke free of her moorings in strong winds and is ramming the dock….she will sink soon if I don’t get there….”. It took a few seconds for that image to come into view in my brain…..a 428 foot great lakes freighter, moored securely for winter weather, loaded with 8,000 tons of concrete, broke loose in the wind! “Norm, I will call you right back!”

    Yup, MKE was experiencing a full scale winter blizzard. The weather was WOXOF S++ with sustained northeast winds of 70KTS. Zero ceiling, zero vis, hurricane force winds.

    We didn’t fly that night and the E.M. Ford did sink at the bow next to the dock. The hole in her bow was patched and she was towed to Sturgeon Bay for repairs. It took months to hammer out the tons of now solid concrete in the bow. She sailed for 26 more years. The E.M. Ford became the oldest commercial vessel to sail the great lakes at 110 years old. Quite a night to remember about MKE.

    God bless.

  6. Just curious about why there were 53 dogs on the aircraft.

    Dogs for sale?
    Someone’s collection?
    Pilots N’ Paws charity flight?

  7. I was driving across town (MKE) during the time of the crash. It was one of those winter days where you run through cycles of “Only a few snowflakes – maybe it’s almost over” to “Holy Cr@p near whiteout” with the roads completely covered not 2 minutes after a plow had come through, all of this on the Repeat Cycle. They were flying through snowfall conditions that varied from Some to Way Too Much so it would be easy to find a situation where a short-lived weather “event” became critical while slow and close to the ground. Great effots by the pilot to control the airplane through as much of the crash as possible, and so a good outcome for all the souls on board.

  8. The dogs were being taken to WI for a charity that finds homes for them. Otherwise, they would be euthanized at a “kill” shelter.

  9. DeSantis would have sent them to Martha’s Vinyard where they would have gotten much better care. Too cold in MKE!!!

  10. I’m not suggesting this accident was due to ice but flying around the Great Lakes in the winter takes a careful eye on the weather. Extreme icing can happen in a heartbeat. I was on a Metroliner flying into Erie on a particularly nasty night. While on approach, I could tell there was quite a bit of snow on the runway and sure enough the Capitan come on the PA and said we were going to abort the landing while we waited for the airport to clear the runway of snow. We head out over the Lake into a hold (why the Capitan would accept a hold over the Lake, I’ll never know). The ice lights were on and I noticed that the boots were not removing the ice and an ice dam was building on the leading edge, fast. I was sitting in the front seat with the flight attendant facing me and I told her she should probably call up front and let them know about the ice dam. She looked at me as if I was crazy and I said, “Madam, I’m a pilot and I can guarantee the Capitan will want to know about the ice build up, NOW!” She got on the horn and sure enough the cockpit door opens and the second officer leans out through the door and looks at the wing. I’ll never forget his face. First recognition then wide-eyed terror. There was a very gentle turn back to the runway and we landed at a fairly high speed using all the runway. When we arrived at the gate there were some very large ice chunks dropping from the wings. We came a hairs breath from being an accident statistic. Can you imaging plunging into Lake Erie due to ice? No one would ever know the truth of what happened.

    • I had the same icing situation in a Caravan in a Northeast Ohio area airport. Only time I ever landed a Caravan with partial flaps(per POH). A friend of mine died when he crashed in Wisconsin due to ice overwhelming the Caravan he was flying. Icing can occur very suddenly and be severe, more than any plane certified for known icing can handle. As far as flying dogs this flight is better than having to put all of them down because no one wants them. Being a charitable flight, no government funds pay for this and in some cases better spent on the pets than what the government wastes on welfare now. If this was an icing event, the pilot and those dogs are lucky to have been able to land on mostly one piece.

  11. Really? If one needs a perfect example of a first world problem it is the inclination and cost to fly a bunch of unwanted mongrels across the US to possible new owners or not. Talk about too much wealth and free time. No wonder we have so many whacked out people who support so many whacked out causes and projects. Why would any sane pilot risk life and equipment to fly in really bad weather for a bunch of mutts?

  12. Agree it was a poor day for the mission but I respect the cause. I’d fly to save a bunch of cats for sure. Maybe dogs as well 😉

    It IS a First World problem. I LIKE living somewhere where we care for God’s creatures rather than eat them.

    (Dogs and cats at least. I realize we vegans are in the minority).

  13. Dogs, I happen to love them, I’m glad they survived and they all deserve good homes even more then ever. The mutts especially!

    Great story Jeff W.! Except the ship was loaded with cement, that WOULD have became concrete if the ship had sunk, that would been a mess for sure. Great Lakes weather, much respect to those who winter fly there.

    • To get a bit more technical; you’d have cured cement. Concrete is aggregates, and sand bonded together by the cement.