In a tragic incident in Florida, a pilot's final moments were recorded on radio as the recently purchased aircraft crashed. The FAA/NTSB is investigating, focusing on the pilot's concerns about altitude.
Pilot’s Heartbreaking Last Words Before Fatal Crash
The last words of a pilot, just before his aircraft went down, were captured on a radio traffic tape.
Tuesday, November 14, at about 2:00 pm, a private single-engine aircraft crashed at Paynes Prairie State Preserve Park, south of Gainesville, Florida, earlier this week.
The Federal Aviation Administration acknowledged the accident of the Piper PA-28 jet and the tragic death of the pilot in a statement on Wednesday, November 15.
According to WUFT, the pilot had purchased the aircraft on October 31, two weeks prior to his last flight.
Furthermore, he was the only person inside the plane when it crashed, according to PEOPLE.
At approximately 12:45 p.m., the aircraft took off from Kissimmee Gateway Airport.
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Just before takeoff, the pilot issued a warning to temporarily halt the aircraft due to "visual flight rules," which state that pilots should consider themselves safe to fly as long as they are at least 1,000 feet above the ground and free of clouds.
"It looks like it’s updating now to be not IFR, showing a few (clouds) at 800 (feet)," the air controller said. "So, if you stand by a minute or two we’ll be VFR."
Shortly after takeoff, the aircraft headed in the direction of Gainesville.
Alachua County Sheriff said on Facebook that residents of Micanopy had called the Combined Communications Center (CCC) claiming to have "heard a plane losing altitude and then a loud boom sound."
It adds: "About the same time, CCC also received calls from the Jacksonville and Gainesville Towers reporting losing radar contact with a plane on the radar screen over Paynes Prairie State Park."
At about 2:00 pm, the aircraft's radar track showed it making a number of abrupt turns in cloudy conditions with visibility of one mile.
WUFT notes that the pilot informed an air traffic controller after ascending to about 6,800 feet: "I’m losing altitude. I don’t think I can hold my altitude without descending.”
"How many miles am I from Gainesville?"
In addition, he instructed the air traffic controller to express his affection for his parents.
Alachua County Sheriff states: "Multiple deputies and Alachua County Fire Rescue (ACFR) responded to the area immediately and established a Command Post to centralize operations. Deputies from multiple units and specialty teams conducted a meticulous grid search with ACFR assistance. Air assets were not able to deploy due to weather conditions. At the time it was cloudy, raining and visibility was poor.”
"Around 5:15 p.m. the wreckage of a small, single-engine plane was located in a wooded area within the park. One individual on board died at the scene. The Medical Examiner's Office will assist in identifying the pilot.”
"The scene was secured overnight by deputies and will be turned over to the FAA/NTSB for investigation this morning. At that time we will transition to assisting the lead agency with their investigation."
According to the FAA, the cause of the jet crash was "unknown," and an investigation is still underway.
As investigators seek answers, the aviation community mourns the loss.