The Associated Press

7/1/03 2:01 PM

CARO, Mich. (AP) -- An executive with a free-market, smaller-government think tank was killed when his ultralight aircraft crashed and burned, state police said Tuesday.

Joseph P. Overton, 43, senior vice president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, was dead at the scene of the 9:32 p.m. Monday crash. He had just taken off from the Tuscola Area Airport when, according to witnesses, the single-seat craft suddenly headed downward, clipped some power lines, hit the ground and caught fire on impact, state police said.

The Federal Aviation Administration was notified. The crash occurred near Caro in Michigan's Thumb.

Overton spent more than 11 years with the Midland-based Mackinac Center, which advocates free-market solutions to public policy matters.

Overton wrote often about educational issues, supporting vouchers, charter schools and other ways of giving parents more choices in educating their children. One of his frequent targets was the Michigan Education Association, the state's largest teachers union, which he accused of discouraging innovation and accountability.

"The cause of giving parents freedom to choose the best and safest schools for their children will be ultimately achieved in part because of his tireless efforts," Mackinac Center president Lawrence Reed said in a statement.

Overton, of Midland, and others with the Mackinac Center bristled at being labeled conservatives. The organization praised former Republican Gov. John Engler's efforts to cut most taxes but faulted him for proposing taxes on Internet purchases and incentives that it derided as "tax favoritism."

Overton held a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Michigan Technological University and a law degree from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. Before joining the Mackinac Center, Overton held several positions at Dow Chemical Co. in Midland.

He is survived by his wife, Helen.

Funeral arrangements were pending Tuesday.

------

On the Net:

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, http://www.mackinac.org/

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press

Share More …