- Associated Press - Sunday, April 20, 2014

VENICE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - The Federal Aviation Administration is leading the investigation of the fatal crash of an experimental plane that apparently was attempting an emergency landing in a central Michigan farm field.

Authorities released the names Sunday of the pilot and passenger who were killed in Saturday’s crash. They were Richard K. Hayward, 63, of Vassar, and Mark J. Kozan, 49, of Caro, The Flint Journal reported. The crash happened at about 2:15 p.m. in Shiawassee County’s Venice Township, about 15 miles west-southwest of Flint.

The plane belonged to Hayward and was a CJ-6 designed as a mock-up of a light fighter, WEYI-TV said.

Hayward’s daughter, Susan Dorn, said she knew something was wrong when her father didn’t call to say he had landed safely. Then she saw images of the wreck online.

“I knew instantly that was my dad’s plane. It’s a very distinctive airplane,” said Dorn.

Francis Osika told the Argus-Press of Owosso that he was standing next to his barn when the accident occurred.

The plane “came right over the top of me from the northwest,” he said. “I could hear the engine spitting and sputtering. My first thought was, ‘He ain’t going to make it.’”

Osika said the plane cleared some power lines, made a sharp left turn, then banked left again before crashing into the field. The plane had its landing gear down, he said.

Some gas leaked from the plane, but it didn’t catch fire, authorities said.

Osika said he and Lucas Lentner, of Birch Run, who was passing on his motorcycle, rushed to the crash site. Before emergency crews arrived, the men opened the plane’s hatch, Osika said. He said the pilot had no pulse, while the passenger had a faint pulse and was breathing for some time. He and Lentner thought it would be unwise to move the men, so they waited until emergency crew members arrived a few minutes later.

“We tried the best we could,” Lentner said.

“You feel helpless when you see something like that happen,” Osika said.

County sheriff’s Sgt. Brian BeGole described the plane as an experimental aircraft owned by an aviation company. He said the FAA was heading an investigation of the crash.

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