September 30, 2009, Albany, Ind., Mooney M20M


The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a post-crash fire when it hit trees and terrain at 1237 Eastern time. The solo instrument-rated commercial pilot was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

The pilot was conducting touch-and-go operations at an airport in Michigan before being issued an IFR clearance for a round-robin flight to the Traverse City Vortac at FL250. The pilot became unresponsive during the flight; the airplane was subsequently intercepted by National Guard F-16s who escorted the airplane until it crashed in a cornfield.

At 1002, the pilot acknowledged being cleared to his final cruise altitude of FL250 as the airplane was climbing through FL185. At 1039, the airplane crossed the Traverse City Vortac and turned southbound. After the turn, the controller asked the pilot when he wanted to start descending but received no response. The airplane continued southbound until it entered an uncontrolled descent. The descent began at 1220, and the last radar return was recorded around 1237.


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