News Plane Crashes — 12 October 2011

A small, single-engine plane that crash landed on Florida’s Turnpike near Hollywood Wednesday afternoon has been loaded onto a flatbed truck and will be towed to a place where investigators can begin examining the wreckage for the cause of the accident, which closed most of the highway for hours.

Florida Highway Patrol expects to reopen all lanes of the Turnpike by 6 p.m., once the plane is safely off the road, said Sgt. Mark Wysocky, who was on the scene.

Rush hours commuters leaving Miami are advised to avoid the Turnpike and use alternate routes instead, such as U.S. 441. As of 5 p.m., two cranes had hoisted the plane, which had been in the middle of the northbound lanes, off the ground and placed it on a flatbed truck. Wysocky said the plane will be taken to an area near Sun Life Stadium, where the plane’s wings will be removed.

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Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board will examine the plane as they determine the cause of the crash, said Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

The plane, with two people onboard, slammed into the roadway sometime after 1 p.m. Wednesday about one-half mile south of the Turnpike’s Hollywood Boulevard exit.

Injuries to the two people aboard the plane are unknown. But according to preliminary reports, Pembroke Pines firefighters transported the plane’s 49-year-old male pilot to Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood. He was reportedly awake and alert, and complaining of back pain.

Police re-opened portions of the Turnpike’s southbound lanes at about 3:30 p.m., but most of the highway will remain closed while the plane is removed, and rescue workers finish clearing debris and removing hazardous materials, such as jet fuel, from the scene.

The plane came in for a landing in a southbound direction, against northbound traffic, but did not strike any cars, said Hollywood Fire Chief Virgil Fernandez.

“It was a tremendous effort on the pilot’s part not to get anyone hurt,’’ Fernandez said.

The plane came to a stop with its nose facing the median. Its landing gear left a tandem-wheel skid mark about 75-yards-long on the highway, and the plane’s right wing appeared to have suffered extensive damage. The smell of jet fuel permeated the air.

Sgt. Mark Wysocky of the Florida Highway Patrol said the plane appeared to have experienced an unknown mechanical issue, forcing it to make an emergency landing.

Greg Meyer, a spokesman for the Broward County Aviation Department, said the plane had departed from Opa-locka Airport in Miami-Dade and had received permission to land at North Perry Airport in Pembroke Pines.

“I don’t know the purpose of the flight,’’ he said.

The plane is a 2008 SOCATA TBM-700 single turboprop, with a tail number of N37SV. It is registered to SV Leasing Company of Florida, which has a principal address in Coconut Grove.

SOCATA North America has offices located at North Perry Airport, and Meyer said the planes are assembled there.

Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said the agency had no record of past accidents or maintenance of the airplane. Those records are kept by the plane’s owners but will be examined during the investigation, she said.

According to flightaware.com, a flight tracking service, the plane flew into Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport on Sept. 29 from Teterboro Airport in New Jersey.

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