NTSB Focuses on Weather in Plane Crash That Killed Plymouth Doctor
A preliminary report shows weather may have played a role in a small plane crash that killed a Plymouth doctor.
The report from the National Transportation Safety Board says snow was falling on May 8 and the temperature was just above freezing when Dr. Thomas Stillwell, 65, of Plymouth took off from the Moose Lake Carlton County Airport. That’s about 45 miles southwest of Duluth. Stillwell was headed to the Crystal Airport.
The doctor was given clearance to take off, but the report shows that weather conditions deteriorated quickly. Stillwell crashed shortly after takeoff.
While the report did not definitively say the weather caused the crash, the NTSB focused solely on the weather in its report.
Report Filed May 9, 2019
A prominent Twin Cities doctor has died in a plane crash.
Authorities say that the body of Dr. Thomas Stillwell, 65, was recovered from the wreckage of a single-engine plane that crashed Wednesday near the Moose Lake Carlton County Airport.
The plane was supposed to land at the Crystal Airport on Wednesday at 5:15 p.m. but never made it to its destination.
Authorities recovered the plane in a river a half-mile west of the Moose Lake Carlton County Airport on Thursday at around 7 a.m.
Carlton County Sheriff Kelly Lake says that Stillwell was the pilot of that plane. Stillwell is a urologist from Plymouth who has practiced in Minnesota since 1991.
Connection to Crystal Airport
The Federal Aviation Administration describes the plane as a Mooney M20J. The aircraft is owned by Club Cherokee, which lists the Crystal Airport as its address.
According to Club Cherokee’s website, they operate a handful of private aircraft for its members, and they describe the plane as being a, “Porsche in the sky.”
Club Cherokee’s President, Bruce Killam, sent this statement to CCX News:
The Minnesota aviation community is a close-knit family, and any time there is an aircraft incident, we are all affected.
Today, Club Cherokee has experienced a terrible loss in our family. The pilot flying N111JP was a long-standing and highly regarded member of Club Cherokee. At this time, we would like to express our sincere condolences to his family and friends. As the investigation into the incident continues, we will be working with the FAA and NTSB to the fullest extent.
At this point in time, we are in no position to further comment on any pending investigation.
North Memorial Health Hospital provided this statement:
Our heartfelt condolences go out to Dr. Thomas Stillwell’s family. Dr. Stillwell was a valued member of the North Memorial Health Hospital medical staff for 28 years and practiced at Minnesota Urology.
Meanwhile, Minnesota Urology posted this note on its website:
The physicians and employees of Minnesota Urology were devastated to learn early this morning that our colleague and friend, Dr. Thomas J. Stillwell, was killed late yesterday afternoon when piloting his plane from Moose Lake, MN back to the Twin Cities. Dr. Stillwell had just completed a regularly scheduled day of patient care at the Mercy Hospital clinic, where he provided urologic services to the Moose Lake community two times per month.
Dr. Stillwell’s practice was unique in that he focused mainly on providing care to patients in rural communities that otherwise did not have access to a urologic physician and surgeon. In addition to Moose Lake, Dr. Stillwell flew his plane to Mora MN, Onamia, MN, and Grantsburg, WI regularly for more than twenty years.
“Tom was extremely dedicated to serving the rural communities of Minnesota and Western Wisconsin,” noted Dr. Jeffry Twidwell, a fellow urologist who worked closely with Dr. Stillwell at Minnesota Urology. “He was one of a kind. In today’s world, how many specialty physicians dedicate their professional careers to serving rural areas…and travel to them by piloting their own planes? He was an incredibly generous and caring individual.”
Dr. Stillwell was a board-certified urologist who received his medical degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, and completed his residency at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Prior to beginning his career at Minnesota Urology, Dr. Stillwell served as a surgeon with the U.S. Marines Mobile Surgical Hospital in Kuwait during Desert Storm. He has been named a Top Doctor in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine numerous years, including 2019.
Dr. Stillwell was an outstanding physician, colleague and friend who will be deeply missed. All of us at Minnesota Urology extend our condolences to his family, who remain in our thoughts and prayers.
The National Transportation Safety Board will be in charge of the investigation regarding the plane crash.