BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — The pilot of a small plane died after crashing at the W.K. Kellogg Airport in Battle Creek.
Police identified the pilot as 48-year-old William Carlson Pergerson II of Berrien Springs. He was a pastor with the Seventh-day Adventist Church, according to police.
Pergerson was the only person in the single-engine aircraft when the crash happened around 8:20 p.m. Thursday.
Authorities say the experimental aircraft — which means it has an “experimental” category airworthiness certificate and includes most kit-built aircraft — was having some time of difficulty shortly after takeoff. He attempted to land the aircraft twice. The second time he crashed into a grass field near one of the runways and the aircraft caught fire.
“They were in communication with the control tower the whole time and I don’t think they even left the airport property, it came back and tried to land and unfortunately it didn’t end well,” said Larry Bowron, the transportation director at W.K. Kellogg Airport.
The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration will start their investigation Friday morning.
Two of the three airport’s runways are back open after being closed for a few hours. The third runway is expected to reopen sometime Friday morning.
Western Michigan University College of Aviation, the Battle Creek Air National Guard, Duncan Aviation, WACO Classic Aircraft and Centennial Aircraft Services fly out of W.K. Kellogg Airport, according to the City of Battle Creek website.
Cheryl Roland, WMU executive director of university relations, said in a statement Thursday that the accident didn’t involve any person or aircraft from the college.