THREE RIVERS, Mich. — A West Michigan man is dead following a crash overseas.
Jamie Brokaw, 33, was killed along with several others on a plane which was carrying freight in Afghanistan.
The plane was flying with the privately owned company called National Air Cargo.
That company does a lot of contract work for the US government.
“It’s kind of shocking somebody that close to you is suddenly gone,” said Mike Hoag, a friend of the family for more than 20 years.
Jamie and his family were the Hoag’s neighbors.
“A good kid all around. Enthusiastic,” said Hoag.There was no mistake about his love of flying.
Hoag said he was flying with his father and brothers since he was in diapers.
Jamie appeared to be carrying on a family tradition as a co-pilot with the National Air Cargo company.
Hoag said Jamie’s grandfather was a bomber pilot in World War II and his father flew as well.
“You could just tell how much he loved airplanes because every time somebody would be talking about it, he would be in on the conversation,” said Haylee Sonseksen, Jamie’s friend.
It’s unclear exactly what happened to cause the crash although family and friends had heard that a witness noted that it appeared the load was unbalanced and that may have made the tail heavy.
“The airplane pitched up. The nose high would indicate a load shift. Something broke loose and slid to the back which made the airplane out of it’s weight in balance,” said Hoag.
He says Jaime was just married last summer. His wife Liz and step-daughter Chloe live in Monroe.
Hoag says one of the things that surprises him the most is the fact that the cargo planes are heavily regulated and therefore he thought, relatively safe.
“The rules in aviation are so strict,” he said.
Although Hoag said Jaime worked as a co-pilot for the company, it’s uncertain yet if he was flying at the time of the crash.
Hoag said the crews on the cargo planes typically had other pilots aboard due to the length of the flights and the pilots would work in rotation depending on their shift.