Earlier this month, tragedy struck in Hermantown when a Cessna 172 plane crashed into a Hermantown home, taking the lives of all three people on board. Killed in the crash were passengers Alyssa Schmidt, 32, her brother, Matthew Schmidt, 31, and Tyler Fretland, 32, who was the airplane’s certified pilot. All were from the Twin Cities area and were in Duluth to attend a wedding.

There were two residents inside the home at the time of the crash, which occurred just before midnight on Saturday, October 1, and both were uninjured.

Immediately after the crash was reported, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) began investigating exactly what happened. The plane had just left the Duluth International Airport and crashed minutes after takeoff.

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The NTSB has released some initial findings of their investigation and our media partners at WDIO-TV shared some key points from that report:

  • The pilot and passengers were friends who had flown up from a municipal airport in South St. Paul the morning of Oct. 1, attended a Twin Ports wedding and reception, and then attempted to fly back from Duluth International Airport about 12 hours after first arriving. They did not ask for any fueling or maintenance on the plane.
  • The pilot, Tyler Fretland, 32, of Burnsville, Minnesota, incorrectly read back a “departure frequency” issued to him and wasn’t corrected by the air traffic controller.
  • Preliminary tracking data indicates the plane left the airport’s runway at 11:12 p.m. and turned south while climbing to about 1,750 feet. It then entered a “tight,” 270-degree “teardrop turn” to the left and ultimately climbed to about 2,800 feet before descending.
  • The air traffic controller tried to contact the pilot on the departure frequency and heard no response. The controller contacted Fretland on the airport’s “tower frequency” and instructed him to contact departure, which he did.
  • As the airplane continued to turn left and descend “with increasing ground speed,” the controller asked Fretland to confirm that he was climbing. “There was no response and no further communication from the pilot,” the safety board’s report reads.
  • The plane struck the front of a two-story house, passing through two upstairs bedrooms, then came to rest upside-down between a parked vehicle and a detached garage. There was no fire, and the crash left about 100 feet worth of wreckage.
  • Post-crash checks on the plane’s engine showed no apparent issues with various components.

A the NTSB continues their investigation, you can download their complete preliminary report through the link above. Just fill in the key information on the "Common Investigation Fields"

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