Holland Michigan College Students Killed In Plane Crash





Holland Michigan College Students Killed In Plane Crash

By Bill Goldston (Update)

On January 17, 2010, Michigan Students Killed In Plane Crash. At about 10 AM, 23 year old Hope College student David O. Otai and his passenger, 20 year old Emma E. Biagioni, also a student departed Tulip City Airport Holland, Michigan in a Cessna 172. The aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff, tragically killing both students when the aircraft impacted the snow covered terrain following a loss of control while maneuvering near the airport. Otai was an FAA licensed commercial instrument rated pilot.   

At the time of the accident instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) were present. The flight was conducted under VFR and without a flight plan. The Cessna 172 N, with the tail number N8405E, was registered to and operated by Tulip Air Service. According to the operator, the pilot was planning to give rides to his friends. He canceled the first flight due to the inclement weather. The second flight was the accident flight.  

A lineman saw the airplane take off and disappear into the overcast. Shortly thereafter, he heard an airplane fly over the airport, but could not see it. He heard an airplane make three additional passes and each time he could not see the airplane.


On the fifth pass, he saw the Cessna 172 flying east to west approximately 50 feet above the ground and it "barely cleared the trees. "He said he then heard the pilot call Muskegon approach control and tell the controller that he had just taken off and had gotten "lost in the fog" and needed "an emergency IFR back to Tulip City." When radio and radar communications were lost, authorities were notified.  The wreckage was located in a soybean field approximately 11:30 AM. Emergency teams found the dreadfully damaged aircraft soon after being dispatched to the area, it was reported that the visibility was one eighth of a mile due to fog. At the wreckage site all major airframe components were located and identified.  

Hope College held a service prayer in which 1,100 people were in attendance at the memorial service held at a memorial service in Dimnent Chapel on the Hope College campus.  David O. Otai a sophomore and captain of an intramural soccer team and volunteered for the menís varsity team came to the United States from Kenya as an exchange student and was continuing his education at Hope College. Otai wanted to become a missionary and eventually move back to his home country to fly humanitarian aid. 

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