Search continues for small plane and 83-year-old pilot out of Dowagiac

NOW: Search continues for small plane and 83-year-old pilot out of Dowagiac

UPDATE: Martin was found dead alongside his plane Thursday afternoon about two miles north of Dowagiac.


DOWAGIAC, Mich. - The Dowagiac Police Department says they’ve received a number of tips, but the search still continues for 83-year-old Richard Martin.

The search continued on Tuesday after poor weather made the search difficult on Monday. A number of Martins’s friends from the airport he keeps his plane at and frequently flies out of started the search from the same spot he was last seen at on Sunday.

"In Michigan, this is probably one of the largest searches we've had in 15 years,” said Lt. Col. Robert Bowden.

The Civil Air Patrol, Michigan State Police, Dowagiac Police, and other agencies are all coming together to find Martin.

He flew his experimental Sonex Plane, Tail Number N569SX, out of the Dowagiac Municipal Airport Sunday morning around 11 a.m. and never returned.

Friends say he typically flew out of the airport on Sundays when the weather was nice after getting breakfast with his wife.

Airport Manager and friend of the Martin’s, Oscar Azevedo, says Martin typically takes his plane out for an hour or two, while his wife waits for his return, but on this flight, he never did.

Azevedo said she waited near his hatch until 8 p.m. before making the call he was missing.

"Mr. Martin was a man of routine and habit, what he did Sunday was not abnormal, the only thing abnormal is that we are now trying to find him because he never returned,” he said, while remaining hopeful he will see his friend again.

Martin only had an iPad and an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) on board with him that cannot be reached at this time.

He didn’t have a cell phone or transponder. They’re not required when flying in rural areas like Dowagiac and other parts of Southwest Michigan.

That means Civil Air Patrol doesn’t have an exact route to search, so its crews are doing grid searches from above.

The Dowagiac Police Department says it has never dealt with something like this and does not have aircrafts of its own.

Deputy Chief Kevin Roman says they are thankful for all the help they have received with the search the past 2 days, since they are heavily relying on witnesses to help put together the clues.

They remain hopeful and are hard at work to bring home Mr. Martin.

If you’ve seen or heard anything that could lead to Mr. Martin and his aircraft, please reach out to the Dowagiac Police Department at 269-782-9743, or the Cass County Tip Line at 1-800-462-9328.

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