Plane had mechanical issues and clipped power lines when trying to make an emergency landing, officials say
MIRAMAR, Fla. – A small plane crashed Tuesday morning in Miramar, killing a student pilot and sending a flight instructor to the hospital with serious injuries, authorities said.
They were the only occupants of the plane.
The Piper PA-34 registered to the Wayman Aviation flight school crashed on the south side of Pembroke Road near the corner of Hiatus Road shortly before 9 a.m. and then burst into flames.
Miramar resident Mark Daniel Scott, 25, was the student killed, Miramar police say.
The instructor, who has not yet been identified, was taken to Memorial Regional Hospital with serious injuries.
Eddy Luy, vice president of Wayman Aviation Academy, told Local 10 News that Scott was an advanced student nearly done with his training.
“The flight training is all about emergency operations,” Luy said. “It’s about what happens in case of this, in case of that, and they seemed to have followed those procedures just fine, but the timing was not right for them.”
Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said the plane departed from North Perry Airport in Pembroke Pines, about three miles away from the site of the crash, and the pilot told air traffic controllers that he was trying to return to the airport.
Miramar police spokeswoman Tania Rues said the plane was experiencing mechanical issues and had attempted to land on Pembroke Road but it went down after clipping power lines.
Dashcam footage sent to Local 10 News shows the plane striking power lines in the area before crashing to the ground.
“All of a sudden, something just caught my eye. I looked up and the plane was just definitely way too low,” said witness Alan Birmaher, who sent the video above. “I looked up and for a split second, it was close enough that I kind of saw the pilot’s face. It was right there.”
Officers from the Pembroke Pines and Miramar police departments initially responded to the scene.
Rues said there was a third person “hurt by debris” who was treated by Miramar Fire Rescue on the scene and released.
She confirmed that it was two men conducting a training flight who were involved in the crash.
People nearby who saw the plane plunge down say it’s an image they can’t get out of their heads.
“Prayers to the pilot and the passenger. It’s a bad time, I think, for all of us with all the stuff going on with the coronavirus and everything,” Birmaher said. “And to see something like this is very sad and shocking.”
Cedric Jackson, who happened to be right near the site of the crash, said he could feel the heat of the fire as he ran away.
“When it burst up into flames, I felt the heat on my back as if someone had a lighter just sitting there on my shirt. The heat was that close to my back,” he said.
As of Tuesday evening, crews were still removing parts of the aircraft from the scene.
This crash wasn’t the first time there’s been an issue with one of Wayman Aviation Academy’s planes.
Back in August 2018, a single-engine Cessna was forced to make an emergency landing on Interstate 75 due to a mechanical issue. An instructor and student were flying from Punta Gorda back to the flight school when they experienced engine troubles. The two men managed to walk away unharmed.
And in 2016, a twin-engine Piper Seneca flying over the Everglades went down after losing power during the flight. An instructor and student pilot were rescued from that crash.
The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating Tuesday’s fatal crash. The probable cause of the accident will be determined by the NTSB, Bergen said.
Luy said the academy will also be investigating.
“We pray for the families, and I think [the student pilot and instructor] did as well as they could in the situation they were in,” he said.