PARK TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- A small private plane crashed into a sand dune Sunday evening just north of Holland State Park. The pilot, Steve Stam, 66, of Holland, suffered minor cuts to his face and neck.
Ottawa County Sheriff's deputies on scene told FOX 17 the crash happened around 6:45 Sunday evening near the Spyglass Condominiums.
"I saw a flash of light, this aluminum is what I saw, and I heard this thud," one witness told FOX 17.
The pilot, the only one on board, told Fox 17 he was practicing "touch and go" maneuvers and had just reached an altitude of 2,000 feet. "As I turned north, I lost power. It sputtered for a half a minute or so and then it died all together," Stam said. He added, "There was nothing heroic about it. If there's any hero, it's my instructor from years ago who taught me how to prepare for and handle engine failure."
Amazingly, no one on the beach was hurt thanks to Stam's piloting skills of 20 years. "The beach was full of people and it had heavy construction vehicles there. The condos were on my right and the beach was on the left. I thought about the shallow water, but there were boats and children wading in the water I could see and in between there was this area of beach grass," Stam told Fox 17.
This isn't Stam's first incident in a plane, in September 2009 in a different plane, he suffered what his wife described as a "fender bender" at the Park Towship Airport, but he was never in any danger.
When asked if he plans to fly again, Stam, a retired Pastor sounded like he does plan to. "Get back on the horse. I hope we can salvage this particular plane because I love this plane and I want to be back up in the air with it," Stam said. But when asked about his wife's preference, he added, "Well she wasn't of the same opinion on it, but I'm hoping she'll come around." The FAA is investigating to figure out what caused the engine failure.