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Missing 82-Year-Old Pilot and His Homemade Plane Found Crashed

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Clear Facts:

  • Missing small plane found crashed in a wooded area in Southwest Michigan.
  • The pilot, 83-year-old Richard Martin, unfortunately, didn’t survive.
  • Investigations are ongoing to determine the cause of the crash.

The search for a small plane that vanished last weekend in Southwest Michigan has come to a tragic conclusion. Authorities found the aircraft crashed in a wooded region on M-51 North near Elm Street, which is about two miles north of Dowagiac.

Sadly, the pilot of the plane, 83-year-old Richard Martin, didn’t survive the crash. He was the only person on board. The plane in question was a silver Sonex Airplane with the Tail Number N569SX. The alarm bells rang when the plane didn’t return to Dowagiac as expected around 8:15 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 10.

Here’s a bit of background: Richard Martin wasn’t new to the skies. He had a routine, taking his plane out for one to two-hour flights on Sunday mornings. That particular Sunday, he took off around 11 a.m. A family member, expecting his return, got worried when Richard didn’t show up.

A comprehensive search operation was launched, with involvement from multiple agencies: Dowagiac Fire Department, Cass County Sheriff’s Office, Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office, Lawrence Township Fire Department, Michigan State Police, Civilian Air Patrol, Dowagiac Municipal Airport, Federal Aviation Administration, Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, and even members of the community.

Their collective effort continued until the MPS’s Aviation Unit pinpointed the plane’s location on Thursday, Sept. 14, shortly before 4 p.m.

While the Dowagiac Police Department confirmed the location and identified Richard, the exact cause of the crash remains a mystery. Investigations are ongoing.

If anyone out there has more details or information about this incident, they’re urged to reach out to the Dowagiac Police Department at (269)-782-9743.

We want to know what you think! Share your thoughts in the comments below.


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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. John W

    September 16, 2023 at 7:20 pm

    Sad that the old guy didn’t survive the crash. Sounds like he was a seasoned pilot. My guess is a mechanical failure with the airplane.

    • A Clear-eyed Patriot

      September 16, 2023 at 8:39 pm

      Richard Martin, 83, may not have survived the crash, but unlike so many people, he went out doing what he loved. Eighty-three and an experienced pilot I congratulate him on his dedication, and love of aviation. My kinda guy. The sonnet High Flight was written for him and those like him:

      High Flight
      BY JOHN GILLESPIE MAGEE JR.
      Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
      And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
      Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
      of sun-split clouds,—and done a hundred things
      You have not dreamed of—wheeled and soared and swung
      High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
      I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
      My eager craft through footless halls of air ….

      Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
      I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
      Where never lark nor ever eagle flew—
      And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
      The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
      Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

    • Imre

      September 16, 2023 at 8:45 pm

      WHY don’t THEY have age limits for PILOTS of EVERY type of aircraft??? IT could have been 93 year old George Soros on that plane. Too bad it wasn’t!!!

  2. A Clear-eyed Patriot

    September 16, 2023 at 8:50 pm

    Richard Martin, 83, may not have survived the crash, but unlike so many people, he went out doing what he loved. Eighty-three and an experienced pilot I congratulate him on his dedication, and love of aviation. My kinda guy. The sonnet High Flight was written for him and those like him:

    High Flight
    BY JOHN GILLESPIE MAGEE JR.
    Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
    And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
    Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
    of sun-split clouds,—and done a hundred things
    You have not dreamed of—wheeled and soared and swung
    High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
    I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
    My eager craft through footless halls of air ….

    Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
    I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
    Where never lark nor ever eagle flew—
    And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
    The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
    Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

  3. Roger Davies

    September 17, 2023 at 8:57 am

    He died doing what he loved, how good is that

  4. Challange

    September 17, 2023 at 9:39 am

    Sounds like the A/C was in good shape? It appears pristine in the pictures….He kept current Flying every week probably just local hopes and practice approaches… which makes me(as a 90 year old active Pilot) believe the Machine was not the cause but a possible physical event of some kind ? I don’t believe the Sonex Home built had a Auto pilot (glass cockpit) so if He was incapacitated, Unconscious or dizzy, loss of control could be a factor at 83 ????

  5. Mary Pearson

    September 18, 2023 at 2:03 pm

    God Bless his family and loved ones! He’s flying with Angels now without his plane! He was a “Second Hand Lion!” Wonder if he had just watched it recently! Hope his pictures bring a smile and great memory each time they look at them.

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