Report details final moments of fatal June plane crash in Detroit

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News
NTSB agents work at the site of a small-plane crash in a field on Milton, west of Van Dyke in Detroit on Monday.

Detroit — A new report on the final moments leading up to a fatal June plane crash near City Airport detail the pilot's worries over malfunctioning gear and low fuel.

The report, released by the National Transportation Safety Board Aviation on July 19, notes multiple attempts to safely land the Cessna P210N single-engine airplane on June 24 just minutes before the cross-country flight went down less than a mile north of the airport's runway on Milton Avenue. 

Pilot Greg Boaz of League City, Texas first established radio contact at 7:48 p.m. with the tower controller, who cleared the pilot to land. While attempting to enter the runway at 7:50 p.m., the pilot transmitted, "... we don't have a green light on our gear down here, we might have to circle if ya don't mind."

The control tower told Boaz to continue circling as he attempted to fix the plane's landing gear. Soon after, as the tower worked to clear Boaz for an emergency landing, he transmitted his final contact, "Well, I just burnt outta fuel, we're totally out bud." 

The plane crashed at 7:57 p.m. and burst into flames. 

Boaz and his wife Julie, the front-seat passenger, were killed. Their 17-year-old son Peyton was critically injured in the crash on Detroit's east side. 

The crash, captured on cellphone video, spurred nearby residents to rush to the scene in an attempt to save those on board. One man used an ax to break a window and pulled Peyton Boaz from the flames. He was rushed to Detroit Receiving Hospital.

Reached Friday, a hospital spokeswoman would not immediately release an update on the teen's condition.

The father, stepmother and brother flew from Texas to watch Krysta Boaz compete in the USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championship at Cobo Center.

Read more: Team rallies around girl after Detroit air tragedy

Detroit police and fire department personnel at the scene of a small plane crash in the 7500 block of Milton Street in Detroit on June 24, 2018.

The airplane departed Baytown, Texas, airport at 4:42 p.m. and made a planned fuel stop at West Memphis Municipal Airport before heading toward Detroit. The pilot requested about 60 gallons of fuel at the Arkansas airport. By 7:12 p.m., the plane began descending to Detroit and reached 2,000 feet mean sea level by 7:28 p.m., according to the report. 

Boaz then established radio contact with the tower controller. While attempting to enter the runway at 7:50 p.m., Boaz transmitted his concerns with the landing gear and intention to circle while working to get it functioning.

At one mile final approach, he informed the controller of a partially down communication tower and that "we don't have a green light" to land.

The tower controller alerted Boaz that the plane's right main gear was still up and instructed him to continue circling while working on the gear, according to the report. Boaz told the tower, "doesn't appear we're making any progress with the gear whatsoever" and that he planned to go in for an emergency landing in a grassed area parallel with the runway. 

At 7:55 p.m., the controller advised Boaz against it, suggesting instead that he land on another runway and to continue circling until emergency staff was in place to assist. 

But Boaz replied that the plane was out of fuel. The plane descended to 1,800 feet and crashed. The plane was destroyed by fire, the Federal Aviation Administration said. 

An FAA investigation for probable cause could take up to 18 months to complete.

Twitter: @SarahRahal_