PARK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — No one was hurt when a small plane crashed on the Lake Michigan beach just north of Holland State Park on Sunday evening.
The plane landed in the dunes behind the Spyglass Condominiums off Sea Watch Drive in Park Township, avoiding beach-goers and the condos.
Ottawa County deputies identified the pilot as 66-year-old Steven Stam. He was hospitalized with minor injuries.
Witnesses told 24 Hour News 8 that the plane was seen flying low when suddenly its engine seemed to stop and the plane fell to the ground. One witness described the sound of the crash as a “thud.”
“I did not hear a plane engine, no. I would have known if I had heard that,” witness Mary Workman said.
Stam told 24 Hour News 8 he was flying low on purpose as he prepared for an emergency landing. He had told police that he was having engine trouble when it suddenly stopped.
“I was coming in on a glide to the beach grass away from people and condos,” Stam said.
Witnesses said they could see a man who they thought was the pilot walking away from the downed plane.
“I think it’s amazing that he (the pilot) was able to skillfully nosedive the plane into the dune, because he was so close to people on the beach and so close to the building,” witness Mary Tuuk said. “The fact that he was able to find a place to land the plane without injuring anyone is just an absolute miracle.”
Workman said the pilot was concerned as children approached and that he wanted to make sure there was not a fuel leak.
The cause of the plane crash was not known Sunday night. Authorities roped off the plane with crime scene tape, where it sat on the dune in what became a spectacle.
The aircraft is a fixed-wing single-engine plane manufactured in 1966 by Alon, according to Federal Aviation Administration registry records matching the tail number on the plane. It was last certified in June 2010.