A small plane flown by a Grob Systems executive apparently caught fire before crashing in Hancock County and killing both people aboard, a federal investigation has found.
A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board said witnesses saw fire prior to the July 27 crash that killed pilot Ralf Bronnenmeier, 47, of Findlay, and his passenger, Tiesha McQuin, 26, of Toledo.
Bronnenmeier was chief executive officer of Grob Systems in Bluffton.
Bronnenmeier departed a Holland, Michigan airport at about 12:36 a.m., flying his amateur-built Federsen Lancair IV-P airplane, the report said. He intended to land at Bluffton Airport, according to the report.
Instead, the plane crashed at about 1:10 a.m. on Hancock County 18, between Cass Township 215 and Hancock County 216. The crash site is about five miles northeast of Findlay.
A controller with the Federal Aviation Administration last heard from Bronnenmeier at 1:09 a.m. while clearing him for approach to the airport. Bronnenmeier acknowledged the message, according to the report.
“There was no distress call or indication of any in-flight difficulties from the pilot,” according to the investigation.
Two unnamed witnesses both told federal investigators the plane was on fire before descending. One person said the fire occurred near the plane’s rear, according to the report.
Courier reporter Ryan Dunn will have more on Thursday.