Pilot who crashed in La Center was on a test run

Milo Kays and certified flight instructor Dennis Kozacek were killed in the crash near La Center

LA CENTER — New details were released Thursday morning about a plane crash on Monday that killed two area men.

A single-engine plane crashed in La Center on Monday, killing two men on board. Photo courtesy Clark County Sheriff’s Office
A single-engine plane crashed in La Center on Monday, killing two men on board. Photo courtesy Clark County Sheriff’s Office

A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator wrapped up a preliminary investigation at the scene on Wednesday before the wreckage of the Vans RV-6 single-engine kit plane was transported to Seattle for further inspection.

NTSB Spokesman Peter Knudson told ClarkCountyToday.com that the plane left Grove Field in Camas around 2 p.m. on Monday. On board was the pilot, 73-year old Milo Kays of Camas, and a certified flight instructor identified as 70-year old Dennis Kozacek of Ridgefield.

Knudson says Kays was conducting a test flight required every two years to keep his pilot’s license. The wreckage was spotted around 4:11 p.m. by another pilot flying over a marshy area south of Daybreak Field near La Center.

At this point it’s unknown if Kays and Kozacek were planning to land at the small airstrip.

“We don’t know that yet,” says Knudson. “It’s very possible that we will if there was a plan for the biennial flight review. Often times they will go to another airport and practice landings or maneuvers.”

Dennis Kozacek of Ridgefield, shown in a Facebook photo from 2013, died Monday in a plane crash in La Center.
Dennis Kozacek of Ridgefield, shown in a Facebook photo from 2013, died Monday in a plane crash in La Center.

While some small planes do have aftermarket devices to record information similar to a black box, Knudson says they’re rare. An updated flight panel may include avionics information or GPS data, though it’s too early to know if that’s available. There’s also the chance that someone may have been recording video on a cell phone or GoPro-type camera, though it’s unknown at this point if that was the case.

So far there have been no eyewitnesses to the crash, or reports of anyone who saw the plane before it went down, so it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact time it went down. Knudson says anyone who has information can send an e-mail to witness@ntsb.gov.

Knudson says radar data, or how much fuel was left in the craft, could help them to narrow down the time of the crash if no eyewitnesses come forward.

Dennis Kozacek (center) pictured at an event at Pearson Air Museum in 2017. Also pictured, from left to right, Sue Metzger, Laurel Stephens-Kozacek, Anita Atina. Photo via Facebook
Dennis Kozacek (center) pictured at an event at Pearson Air Museum in 2017. Also pictured, from left to right, Sue Metzger, Laurel Stephens-Kozacek, Anita Atina. Photo via Facebook

There were reports by some people of stormy weather moving through north Clark County right around the time of the crash. Knudson says that will definitely be part of their investigation.

“We look at three areas,” he says, “the pilot, the plane, and the operating environment … and we dig deep into each of those.”

Knudson says they expect to have an initial report of their preliminary findings available sometime in the next week or so. “It’s still early. All the information is just going to be factual in that report.”

Kozacek had been flying since he was 19 as a pilot in the Navy. After 30 years in the military, he flew planes for FedEx. Kozacek was also a fixture in the local flight scene. The Ridgefield native worked as a certified flight instructor out of Camas. His son Carter is also a fighter pilot in the Air Force.

It’s unclear how long Kays had been flying. According to FAA registration info the RV-6 was built in 1990 and Kays has kept up his registration for the craft since then.

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About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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