HERMANTOWN: the first results published by the NTSB after a fatal plane crash

HERMANTOWN, Minn. — Initial findings have been released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) after a plane crashed into a house earlier this month, killing the pilot and two passengers on board.

Jason Hoffman, a Hermantown resident, said he and his wife were both asleep when the plane passed through the second floor of their home, inches from them.

“I found a flashlight and as soon as I turned on the flashlight I realized there was no roof on the house anymore,” Hoffman recounted. “That’s when we started seeing airplane parts that were in our bedroom. Thinking about the hypotheses can drive you crazy, so my wife and I just have to accept what happened and we have luck.

Fortunately, both survived and were uninjured, but all three occupants of the aircraft lost their lives.

The pilot identified as Tyler Fretland, 32, of Burnsville and the two passengers were siblings, Alyssa Schmidt, 32, of St. Paul and Matthew Schmidt, 31, of Burnsville.

Following the accident, the NTSB began the initial investigation.

Although the exact cause is still unknown, the preliminary report describes the moments leading up to the accident, the weather conditions at that time and the condition of the Cessna 172-s aircraft.

According to the report, a witness said that Fretland and the Schmidts, all friends, left the South St. Paul Municipal Airport on October 1.

  • The crew successfully landed at Duluth International Airport.
  • All three attended a wedding and a reception.
  • Approximately 12 hours later, they attempted to return from Duluth International Airport.
  • The report says they did not request any refueling or maintenance on the plane.

Fretland then requested an instrument flight rules or (IFR) clearance from the air traffic controller.

According to the findings, it was cleared and given a start frequency and beacon code.

The report says Fretland read the frequency incorrectly and was not corrected by the controller.

Preliminary tracking data shows the plane left the airport runway at 11:12 p.m.

  • It veered south while climbing about 17 hundred feet, then entered a 270 degree “teardrop turn” to the left and finally climbed to about 2,800 feet before descending.
  • The air traffic controller attempted to contact the pilot on the departure frequency and heard no response.
  • The controller then contacted Fretland on the airport’s “tower frequency” and asked him to contact departure, which he did.
  • Reports indicate that the aircraft continued to turn left with a rapid descent.
  • The controller asked Fretland to confirm he was climbing, but said there was no response and no further communication from the pilot.

That’s when the plane slammed into the two-story house, landing upside down between a parked vehicle and a detached garage.

After the crash, the plane’s engine was evaluated, but the report says no apparent problems were found.

The NTSB says an investigative team will spend the next six to nine months looking into this crash.

A factual report will be completed in approximately 12 months with probable cause determined by the NTSB board.