Pilot in Hermantown plane crash worked for South St. Paul flight school involved in Cottage Grove crash
The fixed-wing, single-engine plane left Duluth around 11:10 p.m. Saturday and reached an altitude of 2,300 feet before it crashed, according to Flightaware.com.
HERMANTOWN — The pilot of the airplane involved in a fatal crash late Saturday night in Hermantown worked as a flight instructor for the same South St. Paul company that was involved in a fatal crash in Cottage Grove two years ago.
Pilot Tyler Fretland, 32, of Burnsville, and siblings Alyssa Schmidt, 32, of St. Paul, and Matthew Schmidt, 31, of Burnsville, were killed minutes after they left Duluth International Airport en route to Fleming Field Municipal Airport in South St. Paul. Their Cessna 172 airplane left radar and crashed into a house on Arrowhead Road around 11:15 p.m., according to the Hermantown Police Department.
Fretland had flown the Cessna 172 Skyhawk from Fleming Field to Duluth just after 10 a.m. Saturday without incident, according to the flight tracking website Flightaware.com . The trio had flown to Duluth for the day for a wedding; Fretland and Matthew Schmidt were roommates, according to social media posts.
The fixed-wing, single-engine plane left Duluth around 11:10 p.m. Saturday and reached an altitude of 2,300 feet before it crashed, according to Flightaware.com. The plane, whose registered owner is Svetfur Aviation of Camden, S.C., went down under “unknown circumstances,” according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The airplane was built in 2002, according to its FAA registry .
Fretland held a commercial pilot’s license that was issued in July 2021, and he was certified in 2022 as a single-engine flight instructor, according to the FAA. Fretland also was a certified flight instructor for Air Trek North, a flight school based at Fleming Field, according to his Facebook page.
Investigators with the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the cause of the crash. Preliminary reports are typically published within two to three weeks from the date of the accident, according to the NTSB.
Air Trek North officials did not respond to multiple phone calls and emails seeking comment.
Cottage Grove crash
The NTSB in May issued its final report on the September 2020 fatal crash in Cottage Grove . The report provides few answers as to how a plane carrying a certified flight instructor and two passengers crashed into a water-filled quarry on Grey Cloud Island, killing all three passengers.
The conclusion drawn from the report is that the reason for the Cessna 172 Skyhawk airplane’s steep descent and impact with terrain could not be determined based on the available information.
Killed in the Sept. 13, 2020, crash were Air Trek North flight instructor Lucas Knight, 23, of North Mankato, Minn., and his two passengers, Larry Schlichting, 60, of Eagan, and Grace “Gracy” Addae, 30, of Eden Prairie.
“The accident flight was a ‘discovery flight’ arranged by the rear-seat passenger for his girlfriend, the front-seat passenger,” the report states. “A flight instructor was seated in the right front seat. Flight track information revealed that, about four minutes after departure at an altitude of about 1,900 feet, the airplane entered a steep descent that continued until water contact. The airplane was destroyed when it impacted the water.”
The crash was documented on camera by another airplane flying in the area, and there was no evidence of mechanical problems or a bird strike, according to the report. The skies were clear at the time of the 2:30 p.m. accident, and there was no evidence that Knight had any medical condition, substance use or toxic exposure that contributed to the accident, the report states.