Where is Richard Martin? Hobby pilot, 82, vanishes after takeoff from Michigan airport in home-built plane

DOWAGIAC, MICHIGAN: An 82-year-old hobby pilot, Richard Martin, has gone missing after taking off from a Michigan airport on the morning of September 10.


The last sighting of him was as he departed from Dowagiac Municipal Airport around 11 am, following his usual post-breakfast ritual at a local restaurant.


(Dowagiac Police Department)
Martin has been missing since the morning of September 10 (Dowagiac Police Department)


Concerns arose when he did not return hours later, prompting a report of his disappearance.

What was Dowagiac pilot Richard Martin flying?

Richard Martin was piloting an experimental fixed-wing, single-engine Sonex plane. This particular aircraft was built from a kit in 2005, as indicated by Federal Aviation Administration records.


Oscar Azevedo, the Dowagiac Municipal Airport Manager, told WVPE that these flights were routine for Martin, mainly for leisure, and typically lasted around an hour.


(Dowagiac Police Department)
Martin was flying an experimental fixed-wing, single-engine Sonex plane, one that he built from a kit in 2005 (Dowagiac Police Department)


He said, “It’s something he does frequently when the weather is good.”

Azevedo mentioned that Martin usually stayed within the local area. During his flights, it was common for his wife to join him, relaxing in a lawn chair and enjoying the sunshine.


The concerned airport manager further said, “The time frame was entirely too long that it took him to come back this time.”

Has the missing pilot been found?

Richard Martin is not yet found and search efforts are underway as of September 12.

In response to his disappearance, Dowagiac police have requested assistance from various agencies, including the Michigan State Police, the Civil Air Patrol, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the US Air Force, to conduct aerial searches for the missing plane.

Radar data shows that Martin flew north of Dowagiac, into Van Buren County, which is where a significant portion of the ground search efforts are focused.


It’s worth noting that Martin did not file a flight plan, which is not uncommon for his typical flights, according to Dowagiac Deputy Police Chief Kevin Roman.



In a Facebook post, the Dowagiac Police Department wrote, “Dowagiac Municipal Airport Manager reported to officers Mr. Martin regularly flies his plane for approximately 1-2 hours on Sunday Mornings.”

“Martin reportedly took off from the Dowagiac Municipal Airport at around 11 AM on Sunday, September 10th, 2023,” it added. “A family member of Martin’s waited for Martin to return; however, after several hours Martin had not returned.”


“This incident remains under investigation by Dowagiac Police,” the post said as it ended with a request for public assistance. “Anyone with information is asked to call the Dowagiac Police Department at (269)-782-9743, or the Cass County Tip Line at 1-(800)-462-9328.”

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