PEMBROKE PARK, FLA. (WSVN) - The families of two men killed when their plane slammed into a storage building in Pembroke Park said they have questions about the crash, pointing to the victims’ years of experience as pilots and flight instructors.
Grieving loved ones said they want to know what caused the plane that Nissan Giat and Joaquin Ricalde were flying to go down near the intersection of Pembroke Park and South Park roads, just west of Interstate 95, Friday morning.
“It didn’t feel real. I felt numb. It just didn’t make any sense to me,” said Ricalde’s son, Rommel Ricalde, “and after every phone call that I made to my family members to tell them the news, with each and every one of those phone calls, it felt more and more real.”
Between the two pilots, loved ones said, they have more than 30 years of experience.
“In between the two pilots is more than 40,000 hours of experience in an aircraft,” said Giat’s wife, Viví Davidoff Giat.
Rommel described his father as a selfless man who always helped others.
“My father was a man devoted to his family. He worked his whole life to make sure me and my family had all we wanted and all we needed,” he said.
Rommel also called his father a “dinosaur of the sky” because of his thousands of logged flight hours.
“He was a pilot. He was one of the greatest pilots, not because he was my dad but because he had 9,000 hours of flights,” he said.
Officials said Ricalde was piloting the 1969 Aero Commander 500S that was headed from the Pompano Beach Airpark to Opa-Locka when, authorities said, the plane smashed into the side of the storage building, killing him and Giat.
Davidoff Giat, herself a pilot, said her husband was a longtime flight trainer who taught thousands of other pilots and can’t begin to speculate what went wrong on Friday.
“My husband was an extremely amazing pilot with very high skills that, thanks to him, I become the pilot I am, with thousands and thousands of hours,” she said.
Davidoff Giat said she remembers the last conversation she had with her husband.
“[He said], ‘Taking off, my love. I’ll be back; I’ll text you when I’m landing,'” she said.
But she would never receive that text, and now both families wait for answers, as they mourn these accomplished pilots and devoted family men.
“My father and Nissan both were great pilots, and with 30 years of experience, they’ve been flying longer than I’ve been alive. I’m 23,” said Rommel. “Whatever happened, obviously, there’s going to be an investigation, but I very much doubt that it was their fault, and I refuse to believe that.”
“We’re all devastated, we’re all very emotional, and we take it one day at a time,” said Davidoff Giat.
The National Transportation Safety Board continues to investigate the crash.
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