By Jon King /

Authorities say that two men, who were killed last year when the small Livingston County-based plane they were aboard went down in Lake Michigan, appeared to have escaped the craft before it sank.

That’s was the conclusion of Michigan State Police Sgt. Randal Parros, who told an FAA official via email on May 29th of 2019 that the airplane, a single-engine Beechcraft 35 Bonanza, was found on the bottom of Lake Michigan, in about 540 feet of water, in relatively good condition. The email was among NTSB records on the crash reported on over the weekend by The Detroit News>. The May 12th crash remains under investigation.

The body of 53-year-old Emanuel Manos of Monroe was later found, while that of 65-year-old Randal Dippold, of Perry, was never recovered. Dippold, a Pinckney High School graduate, owned Airservice Enterprise Inc. at the Livingston County Airport, which is where the aircraft was based. Manos was president of Detroit Salt Co. Sgt. Parros said that a remotely operated underwater vehicle found the wreck about 5 miles from Frankfort, and that it appeared undamaged, with the “exception of the starboard side wing” while "All the windows were in place and the door was open.” He concluded that both Manos and Dippold appeared to have exited the plane prior to it sinking. Water temperature at the time of the crash was between 39 and 42 degrees, which, according to charts on hypothermia risks, would permit no more than about two hours of survival time. It is also unclear if the plane’s emergency beacon was activated as a water landing might not have been enough to set it off.

The plane took off from Ontonagon in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and was heading to Monroe when it reportedly had engine trouble at about 7,000 feet. Dippold requested an emergency landing and was directed to Frankfort. He reported the shoreline in sight, but was never heard from again. One possible avenue of investigation for the crash may involve fuel consumption. The plane has a range of 600 nautical miles, but may have flown as much as 625 miles that day with no record of additional fuel being taken on board in either Monroe or in Ontonagon.

Top Picture - U.S. Guard helicopter searching for the plane
Bottom Picture - Randal Dippold