David Otai was trying to gain flight hours, so he could become a pilot for a missionary service. He had hopes of returning to Kenya to serve as a pilot for Africa Inland Mission.
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A Kenyan student died in a plane crash in Michigan
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A Kenyan student of Hope College in Michigan died in a plane crash shortly after the plane took off from the Tulip City Airport in Holland on Sunday. The Pilot, Mr. David Otai, 23-year-old and his passenger, Emma Biagioni, 20, were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash that happened in a field between 58th and 60th streets and 134th and 136th avenues.
The plane took off from the airport late Sunday morning. Investigators began searching for the downed wreckage after an automated distress call was detected and communication was lost with the aircraft. The Hamilton fire chief said investigators don’t know what caused the distress call.
Hamilton Fire Chief David Haverdink said that it was reported that the plane appeared to be spiraling and then it went off the radar at about 700 feet. It took fire personnel about 45 minutes to find the plane in the field used to grow corn and soy and they were assisted by the U.S. Air Force’s radars in narrowing down the search.
Federal records show Otai has a commercial pilot’s license and he had rented the 1979 model of the Cessna Skyhawk 172 from the airport, said Ron Ludema, a manager at Tulip City. The plane is inspected for safety after every 100 hours of flight and it was in good working order, he added.
Otai had flown the plane several times since becoming a client about three months ago, Ludema said.
Otai is a sophomore from Kenya who first came to the United States as an exchange student and was continuing his education at Hope Collage. He was a captain on his Hope College intramural soccer team, according to the Hope College Web site.
The crash remains under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration. The sheriff’s department has not confirmed the victim’s names, but Hope College sent out a release identifying the students.