Flight turns deadly; 3 dead
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WSVN) -- A horrifying wreck occurred shortly after takeoff when a small plane hit the ground and burst into flames.
Investigators are picking up every remaining piece of the small airplane that crashed and burned in a Fort Lauderdale parking lot, Friday afternoon. "We'll be gathering information about the pilots background, history, experience," said NTSB Investigator Luke Shada, "and their type of experience."
The small plane with three people on board took off just after 4 p.m. Friday from the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport. Less than a mile from the flight, witnesses saw the airplane plummet from the sky. "We were working down the street and we saw the plane bank," said Rick Blackburn, "in a wing up bank and it went straight down."
It dove into a parking lot, diving and exploding into a row of parked cars. "We saw the plane just go sideways," said Blackburn, "and then it just went behind a building."
About 300 gallons of jet fuel lit on fire and sent smoke into the air. The smoke could be spotted for miles. "All of the black you see is jet fuel," said Blackburn.
Kevin Watson, his dad Wallis "Wally" Watson, and pilot Steven Waller all died in the crash.
Wally has worked at the airport as an engineer for years. "You see these guys your whole life you know, said Gus Maestrales, "you know Wally actually did a lot of avionics work for us and he was a great guy. We're all a family of pilots."
Family gathered at Wally's house in Boca Raton and are still too stunned to say anything. Now, it's what the NTSB finds and says that will tell how a crash with a seasoned pilot possibly happened. "The take off is the most critical portion of a flight," said Maestrales, "and if things happen there and happen quick, you have to respond quickly."
Investigators said not much of the body of that airplane survived. The crash and the fire that came afterward. They're going to have to scour the scene as well as records to determine the cause.
Investigators have also gotten the maintenance records from the plane to try and figure out what happened there. It will take about five days until they release their preliminary report and at least six to eight months until they release what really to the public.
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