1997 plane crash wreckage found in Michigan's Upper Peninsula

Howell couple missing since plane went down near St. Ignace

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ST. IGNACE, Mich. - A wreckage found by National Forest personnel on Wednesday near St. Ignace, Mich. is believed to be a plane that crashed in 1997. 

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said Thursday they are investigating the wreckage of a Piper PA-28-235, the same one that went down on Sept. 14, 1997. Onboard the plane was Mark and Janet Davies, of Howell. The couple has been missing since the crash. 

The plane was departing Drummond Island, Mich. with the intended destination of Howell, according to the NTSB's report. 

From the NTSB: 

The airplane, pilot and passenger have been missing since that time. A search did not locate either the airplane or the pilot and passenger. The personal 14 CFR flight was operating in instrument meteorological conditions. No flight plan was on file. The airplane is presumed destroyed and the pilot and passenger are presumed to have sustained fatal injuries.

According to Toronto Air Route Traffic Control Center NTAP data, the airplane departed Drummond Island at 1553 edt and was observed flying 20 to 25 miles south then turning 180 degrees before disappearing from their radar.

A friend of the pilot said that the pilot normally flew direct GPS and was known to experience vertigo easily. Other pilots reported that the weather that day went down to 200 feet overcast.

The Coast Guard and the Civil Air Patrol initiated a search. They searched for four days, before abandoning the search for lack of sighting evidence of the airplane. The search determined the airplane never reached its intended destination on September 14, 1997. There were sightings of low flying aircraft over I-75, but the Civil Air Patrol was unsuccessful in locating N9399W.

Drummond Island Airport Manager James Bailey said some people saw the plane go down in the fog near Castle Rock. He said he testified the following spring that he saw the Davies board the plane. 

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