News Plane Crashes — 01 April 2017

Two people were killed Saturday after two small planes collided midair and then slammed into a wooded area near Edgewater, authorities said.

The two single-engine planes crashed just after 9 a.m. about a half a mile west of Interstate 95 near State Road 442, according to authorities. Witnesses said the planes were flying in formation with several others just before the collision.

“A witness reported seeing two small airplanes collide, separate and fall to the ground,” said Edgewater Police Chief David Arcieri.

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen identified the planes as a Cessna 170 and a Grumman American AA5B, a four-seat light aircraft built in the late 1970s and ’80s.

The two pilots killed were not identified Saturday and authorities did not answer questions about where the planes had taken off from. Investigators said they did not believe there were others on the planes.

Photos, however, showed the Cessna’s tail number as N8082A. According to an FAA database, the Cessna is registered to Gary Somerton, of Port Orange. Property records show that Somerton owns a home at the Spruce Creek Fly-In community, which is about 13 miles north of the crash site.

The Fly-In is the largest airpark in the United States, and a group there regularly performs formations.

The tail number of the Grumman American AA5B could not be determined.

At the crash scene, National Transportation Safety Board investigators reviewed a green-and-white plane that was in a crumpled heap next to a large tree.

A witness who asked not to be identified said one of the planes started falling out of the sky and then its wing struck the other plane.

“It went into a spin and the other one fell backwards,” he said.
Megan O’Keefe, who was traveling south on I-95, said she and her family saw the crash from their car.

“All of a sudden I looked and one plane just went into a nosedive,” she said.
Her family pulled off the highway and tried to find the crash victims.

“We were in the woods, trying to find smoke but it was too far,” she said.
What looked to be a red antique biplane circled over the crash site until rescue crews could arrive, O’Keefe said.

“He wouldn’t leave until they could get to his buddies,” she said. “It was really sad.”
The FAA said it was investigating the crash in conjunction with the NTSB, which will determine the official cause.

This is the second deadly plane crash in Volusia County in the last five months. In December, two people were killed when a small experimental plane crashed into the front yard of a home in the Spruce Creek Fly-In community.

The crash Saturday brought the total number of people killed in fatal air crashes to 26 in Volusia and Flagler counties since 2006. The greater Daytona Beach area is a hot spot for general aviation flights, which includes private planes, twin-engine corporate jets, vintage planes and experimental aircraft.

General aviation is riskier than commercial flight. In 2015, there were 229 fatal accidents nationwide, killing 376 people, according to the NTSB.

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Other news:
EDGEWATER, Fla. – A mid-air collision between two small planes killed two people Saturday, Edgewater police said.

The planes collided and crashed in a wooded field near State Road 442, about one mile from Interstate 95.

A pilot called shortly before 9 a.m. to report a mid-air collision.

Witnesses reported seeing the planes collide, separate and fall apart.

One witness said it looked like the planes were practicing drills or formations before the collision.

“All of a sudden, I looked and there was debris going everywhere, so at that point, we knew there was at least one crash. We did not know that they collided,” said Megan O’Keefe.

Skywitness showed debris scattered throughout the area.

Police said two people, one in each plane, died at the scene.

Recordings from an Air Traffic Control worker detailed the scene.

“Have two aircraft down, I assume no survivors by the way it went in,” said the caller.

Raw: Call made to Air Traffic Control reporting plane collision

Authorities have not released the victims’ names or details on where the planes took off.

The FAA released a statement that said a Cessna 170 and a Grumman American AA5B collided about three miles northwest of Massey Airpark in New Smyrna Beach.

Edgewater police Chief David Arcieri said it’s still not confirmed if the pilots were doing formations or practicing for a nearby air show.

Arcieri said a National Transportation Safety Board investigator is at the scene to investigate.

The Federal Aviation Administration will also be investigating.

Arcieri said officers will watch over the wreckage overnight until NTSB investigators from Washington, D.C., arrive Sunday.

No other details were released.

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