ST. PAUL -- The National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday, Sept. 22, released its preliminary report into the plane crash that killed a flight instructor and two passengers last week.
Among its findings: the Cessna 172I Skyhawk airplane was destroyed when it crashed into a water-filled quarry on Grey Cloud Island in Cottage Grove, and the crash was documented on camera by another airplane flying in the area. Cottage Grove is about 10 miles south of St. Paul.
Killed in the Sept. 13 crash were: flight instructor Lucas Knight and his two passengers, Larry Schlichting and Grace “Gracy” Addae.
The single-engine airplane, owned by Harrier Aviation of South St. Paul, took off from Fleming Field Municipal Airport in South St. Paul at 2:28 p.m. Sept. 13. Radar data showed the airplane climbed to about 1,800 feet msl (mean sea level) and then traveled south before it turned southeast over Upper Grey Cloud Island, according to the NTSB.
Four minutes later, over Lower Grey Cloud Island, the Cessna disappeared. Another airplane, which was flying into Fleming to land, “captured N8488L in a video and still photographs as it descended,” the report states. “Examination of the photographs indicated the airplane appeared to be intact.”
Some of the Cessna’s wreckage was located and recovered on Sept. 14, but 90% of it was recovered on Saturday, NTSB officials said. The wreckage has been taken to a secure location where it will be further examined, according to the report.
The airplane was built in 1968, according to its Federal Aviation Administration registry. Harrier officials could not be reached for comment.
Knight, 23, of North Mankato, Minn., was a flight instructor for Air Trek North at Fleming Field. Air Trek North officials also did not respond to multiple phone calls and emails seeking comment.
Schlichting and Addae were believed to be passengers on a “discovery flight,” a flight designed to provide a prospective aviation student a chance at the controls. The 60-minute demonstration flight, which costs $189, gives someone interested in becoming a pilot a chance to “take the controls of the airplane, learn how to turn, climb and descend,” according to Air Trek North’s website.
Originally from Coon Valley, Wis., Knight had been a licensed commercial pilot since June 2019. He graduated from Minnesota State University, Mankato, in December 2019 with a degree in aviation and a concentration in professional flight.
Schlichting, 60, of Eagan, was a senior technical writer for MTS Systems in Eden Prairie. Addae, 30, of Eden Prairie, was a certified nursing assistant and nursing student. Her family could not be reached for comment.
Fatal airplane crash investigations “can take anywhere from one to two years to complete depending on the complexities and the facts of the case,” said Eric Weiss, a spokesman for the NTSB.