Pilot, grandson dead after small plane crash near Frankenmuth - WNEM TV 5

Pilot, grandson dead after small plane crash near Frankenmuth

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FRANKENMUTH, MI (WNEM) -

Two people have died after a fiery plane crash at an airport near Frankenmuth.

Police responded to the crash at the William 'Tiny' Zehnder Field on Sunday, July 3. When officers arrived, they found the aircraft engulfed in flames, authorities said. 

The pilot, Eugene Root, and his grandson died in the crash.

Root was a 55-year-old male from Millington. His grandson was 9-years-old, according to the Frankenmuth Police Department.

The FAA and the National Safety Transportation Board are investigating.

"First of all, I wondered if it was someone I knew because I know a number of people who fly out of here and you feel bad in general for someone who lost their life," Don Pawlowski said.

He was shocked when he heard the news of the fatal crash.

According to the long-time pilot, flying conditions were perfect for Sunday, which would rule out weather as a cause for the crash.

Police said the grandfather was holding a birthday get together at the hanger. Root had apparently been doing "touch and go" maneuvers just before the crash, which involves the plane landing then taking off again without coming to a stop.

Witnesses said they saw the aircraft banking right, before losing sight of the plane and hearing the impact. 

The investigation has now been turned over to the FAA and NTSB. 

Pastor Dave Boillat will perform a memorial service for Root and his grandson. They were a part of Boillat's family.

The family said flying was a passion for Root and they'll remember the special moments they shared with their loved ones.

A local pizza shop has started collecting donations to help with funeral costs.

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