By Rachel Lake (email@example.com)
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1:49 PM EST, January 27, 2013
NILES TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Michigan State police have released the name of the pilot killed in a plane crash in Niles Township on Saturday.
He's 50-year-old Christopher McKenna of Elkhart.
The Federal Aviation Administration is launching a probe into what caused McKenna's plane to go down late Saturday afternoon.
Police say McKenna was piloting an ultralight aircraft when he crashed in a wooded area north of the Jerry Tyler Memorial Airport.
McKenna took off from the Niles Twp. airport around 4 p.m. Another pilot -- a friend who was flying in tandem with the victim in a separate aircraft -- told WSBT’s Rachel Lake over the phone that they were both supposed to be coming in for landings and that's when the other pilot's aircraft went down.
The friend says they were flying around the Niles area and were about to land. He said the landing strip was clear and that the victim was right behind him, but all of a sudden the victim's plane went into a 45-degree angle.
The friend didn't see the crash and doesn't know how it happened.
He says the victim flew on and off for thirty years and that the family is “crushed.”
Michigan State Police Sergeant Steve Barker says the two were in the air for a short time.
"They were going to test a piece of equipment, an antennae, and that was their only purpose,” he said. “So it was just a very short time that they were going to be in the air.”
Barker says no attempt was made to resuscitate the victim at the scene.
Search and location
Initially when the ultralight went down, the first challenge for rescuers was to find it. A command center was set up at the airport. Search planes were put in the air and snowmobilers were even dispatched in the search.
Ultimately, the ultralight and pilot were found east of Clark and Jackson streets in a wooded area, northwest of the airport.
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