NEW INFO: Report Released on Accident that Killed W.Va. Airman

By: Brooks Jarosz, Hanna Francis Email
By: Brooks Jarosz, Hanna Francis Email

Statement from U.S. Senator Manchin (D-W.Va.): “Gayle and I were so saddened to hear today about Mike's tragic death. Mike was so proud to serve his country and the state of West Virginia, and I am so grateful for his service. While no words can give comfort, our thoughts and prayers are with his daughter and entire family during this difficult time.”

UPDATE 1/16/12 @ 11:50 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A preliminary report from the NTSB has been released about the crash that killed a local Iraq War Veteran.

Michael Lakin, 42, of Charleston, was killed in a crash back on December 22 in Marysville, Ohio.

Lakin was an Iraq war veteran who made a career of flying a plane, even flying for top West Virginia politicians.

According to the preliminary report, an American Champion model 8KCAB, N161CC, hit the ground while maneuvering near the Union County Airport.

Lakin was performing aerobatics for a re-issuance of his unlimited aerobatic competency card.

Lakin died in the accident. He was the only one in the plane at the time of the crash.

The aircraft sustained substantial damage to its fuselage and wings, according to the report.

Lakin served his country, earning four air medals for his combat missions overseas.

He flew C-130 aircraft, was a military flight instructor and served as a pilot for the state of West Virginia, flying officials like the governor.



UPDATE 12/23/11 @ 6:40 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A passionate pilot with a fearless dedication to his family and country died after a tragic plan accident.

Michael Lakin, 42, of Charleston, was an Iraq war veteran who made a career of flying a plane, even flying for top West Virginia politicians.

He flew for the United States Marines and the West Virginia Air National Guard, where his friends say he loved living on the edge while acting as an ambassador for aviation.

"If you could put wings on a wheel barrel, Mike would have tried to fly it," Col. John Ryan said. "He would sit down and try to educate anyone on flying; he just truly had a passion for it."

That passion took a deadly turn Thursday when Lakin was performing aerobatic maneuvers, flying for re-certification when his plane crashed near the airport in Marysville, Ohio.

The airport manager and instructor were watching the pilot perform his routine when the crash happened.

"The examiner was standing, talking with me when the accident happened, and we were both watching and ... wow. It was not a pleasant afternoon," Union County Airport Manager Ed Rusch said.

Lakin was taken to the hospital where he later died.

Lakin served his country, earning four air medals for his combat missions overseas.

He flew C-130 aircraft, was a military flight instructor and served as a pilot for the state of West Virginia, flying officials like the governor.

However, he also had another love -- his family both immediate and at the West Virginia National Guard.

"Mike and I would sit in my office and talk and contemplate the world which we all do in the future," Ryan said. "He was a devoted family man, devoted to his daughter -- loved her very much."

Now with pain felt by many, fellow air men and women from the 130th Airlift Wing say they realize his great contributions and dedication as a respected veteran pilot.

"He sacrificed daily for this country, this state, this community, this wing and it's our duty to continue that fight, to continue that mission," Ryan said. "That's what Mike would have wanted and we'll do that."

Funeral arrangements have not yet been set.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 12/22/11 @ 11:20 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- An Iraq war veteran who made a career of flying a plane -- even flying top West Virginia politicians -- died in a plane crash Thursday afternoon.

Mike Lakin was born in Huntington and lived in Charleston. On his personal website, he says he learned to fly a plane when he was just 10-years-old.

He flew for the United States Marines and the West Virginia Air National Guard. He also flew corporately, for the West Virginia governor and senators. When he wasn't doing that he enjoyed aerobatics, the flips and spins and rolls.

Thursday, Lakin was traveling from Charleston to Marysville, Ohio, to the Union County Airport to be re-certified in aerobotics, when his plane crashed. He died later at the hospital.

Friends tell WSAZ.com Lakin had just returned from a tour in Iraq, that he was a great guy who will truly be missed.

He is survived by his daughter.



ORIGINAL STORY: 12/22/11 @ 6:15 p.m.
MARYSVILLE, OHIO (WSAZ) -- A local Iraq War Veteran has died in a small plane crash at an airport in Ohio where he was performing aerobatic tricks for re-certification.

Michael Lakin, of Charleston, West Virginia, died at the hospital after he was injured in the crash about noon Thursday at the Union County Airport.

Lakin was a Naval Flight Instructor and a Naval Aviator for the Marine Corps and a graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, according to his LinkedIn page.

Authorities say Lakin was the only person aboard the plane.

Airport general manager Ed Rusch said just before the crash, Lakin was performing low-altitude aerobatics for an on-site examiner when he crashed just south of the airport's runway in Marysville.

Rusch says aerobatic pilots must be re-certified periodically to perform at air shows. He says they're allowed to use the airport for practice and re-certification.


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