UPDATE: Name released of pilot killed in ultralight aircraft crash

An Elkhart man is dead after an ultralight aircraft crashed north of downtown Niles.

Michigan State Police confirm the victim's name is Christopher McKenna, 50.

The accident happened around 4:45 p.m. Saturday in a densely wooded area about 1.5 miles shy of the Jerry Tyler Memorial Airport.

Police say the 50-year-old victim was the only one inside the plane, but was flying alongside another ultralight aircraft, piloted by a longtime friend.

The two took off around 4 p.m. from the Niles airport.

"They were going to test a piece of equipment, an antenna on one of the aircraft," said Sgt. Steve Barker with the Michigan State Police. "So, it was just for a very short period of time they were in the air."

Police say the victim's friend landed his plane at the Niles airport and realized something appeared to be wrong.

He called police to alert them the other plane might have gone down.

Search parties in Southwest Michigan spent hours looking for the downed aircraft, setting up a perimeter along Clark St., just off M-51.

The FAA is taking over the investigation and hasn't released any details about what might have caused the crash.

"The other pilot was interviewed and was very helpful with the investigation," Barker said. "But, as far as what actually happened up in the air, he can only explain what they did in terms of preparing for takeoff and that nature."

It's unclear how long the investigation could take.


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