Kenyan pilot dies in US plane crash

January 19, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 19 – A Kenyan student in the US has been killed after a single engine Cessna aircraft he was flying crashed in Southwest Michigan on Sunday morning.

David Otai, 23, was killed alongside his 20-year old female companion when the plane crashed in a snowy Michigan corn field

The cause of the crash was not immediately known.

The plane crashed in Allegan County\’s Manlius Township, about 5 miles south of the airport and about 155 miles west of Detroit.

Authorities in Southwest Michigan said the old Hope College second year student rented the airplane from Tulip City Air Service and sought emergency assistance from air traffic control, before crashing into the corn field.

"David apparently rented the airplane from Tulip City Air Service (Sunday) morning and sought emergency assistance from air traffic control at the Muskegon County Airport before crashing in a corn field," college President James Bultman said in a posting on the school\’s Web site.

Mr Otai had been renting planes from the service since early December, owner Ron Ludema told The Holland Sentinel.

He is reported to have been trying to get a commercial pilot\’s licence to serve as a pilot for the Africa Inland Mission in Kenya.

"He wanted to work for them. He had a purpose (for flying) that he had shared with others on campus," said Hope College spokesman Tom Renner.

According to information published on the school website, the parents of the students have been informed of the tragedy.

The deceased was in the plane with Emma Biagioni, 20, when it crashed in a corn field early Sunday morning.

During the flight which was characterized by poor weather conditions, the trainee pilot is reported to have made a distress call.

Preliminary investigation has shown the student was licenced and trained to fly under those conditions.

Mr Otai was a sophomore, and Ms Biagioni was a junior at the 3,200-student Holland-based liberal arts college, affiliated with the Reformed Church in America.


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