A small plane has crashed into a water tower near school athletic fields in western Michigan, killing the 80 year old pilot. The crash happened near the Whitehall Middle School and there were no other reports of injuries.

The National Transportation Safety Board says it will investigate the crash, which occurred Monday in Whitehall, located about 55 miles northwest of Grand Rapids.

Photo courtesy of Traci Schuitema

The Taylorcraft BC-12 plane had departed from an airport in Fremont about 45 minutes prior to the crash. Whitehall Police Chief Roger Squiers says there did not appear to be any engine problems.

The water tower is located in a populated area. Chief Squiers said the potential for injuries on the ground was "very real" if the plane had avoided the tower and crashed nearby.

Whitehall Middle School is located very near the scene. A resident in the community told us that there were a few kids outside of the school when the plane crash occurred and that loud boom could be heard throughput the school building. Some are speculating that the pilot may have been attempting to land in the nearby football field, but that is not known for sure.

Photo courtesy of Traci Schuitema