Pilot error blamed for last fall's fatal crash near Anoka

NTSB found no mechanical failure among wreckage

Al Schoch
May 14, 2018 - 8:39 am

It was pilot error.

Federal investigators concluded the small plane that crashed into the Mississippi River near Anoka last fall was flying too low when it went down.

Killed in the October 13, 2017 crash was a couple from Princeton, Chad Rygwall, 47, and his wife, Jill, 48.

Chad Rygwall was flying the single-engine Cessna and his wife was a passenger. The craft struck power lines over the river before crashing nose-first into the water.

The National Transportation Safety Board in its final report stated that the plane was flying at or below the height of trees on the river's banks, or less than 100 feet above the ground. The FAA prohibits operating an aircraft less than 500 feet in an uncongested area.

The NTSB reports finding no evidence among the wreckage of mechanical failure or malfunction.

The Cessna was registered in Chad Rygwall's name, and records show he had been a licensed pilot for five years.

Jill Rygwall's body was recovered shortly after the crash, with the wreckage pushed about 300 yards downriver by currents. Chad Rygwall's remains were pulled from the river nearly two days after the plane went down.

Flight records show the plane took off from the Princeton airport and presumably the plan was to return there. The couple reportedly were on a sightseeing trip to see the fall colors.