PEMBROKE PINES, FLA. (WSVN) - A pilot has died after a plane crashed shortly after takeoff at North Perry Airport in Pembroke Pines.
Pembroke Pines Fire Rescue crews responded to the airport in the area of Pines Boulevard and South University Drive at around 3 p.m., Monday.
Pilot Cesar Quintana said when he spotted the aircraft, it was just a few feet off the ground.
“We basically saw it about a second before impact, and it just hit the ground and a white puff of smoke,” he said. “It was too fast to see it, too fast to really understand what took place. We heard a loud bang. That’s what we saw. I actually contacted the tower to make sure they knew about it, that they were working on the emergency vehicles.”
According to fire officials, the plane experienced engine trouble on takeoff and attempted to return and land on Runway 28R.
Only one person was on board the aircraft, which has been identified as a Lancair Legacy, a two-seat kit plane. The pilot was pronounced dead at the scene, officials said.
“It’s a home-built, and I just quickly looked at it,” Ed, a pilot who has been flying out of the airport for over 30 years, said. “When it’s experimental, you can do almost anything you want as long as it’s safe to fly.”
Ed, who did not provide his last name, added that pilots are taught not to return to the airport if they encounter trouble after takeoff.
“We’re taught from the beginning you don’t try to turn and go back,” he said. “You’re not going to make it. As soon as you start that turn, you’re going to lose altitude quickly.”
The identity of the pilot is not yet known, but the crashed aircraft is registered to a person in South Florida.
Pembroke Pines Police Monday night were dispatched to an address linked to the aircraft’s owner, and neighbors said they are waiting for more information.
“He’s an amazing guy, wonderful guy,” a neighbor said.
“We’re pilots,” Quintana said. “I mean, it’s a human being. It’s a close community, and it’s tough to see this.”
The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the crash.
Copyright 2021 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.