A 28-year-old pilot named as Mitchell Knaus has been killed after the banner plane he was flying crashed and burst into flames on a Florida street in the United States (US).
It was around 12:35pm local time on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, when the single-engine yellow Piper PA-25-235 plane piloted by Knaus lost altitude.
The plane crashed on to the street at an intersection in Hollywood, a city on Florida’s east coast between Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
Footage shared on social media shows the plane engulfed in flames, leaving just a burnt-out frame after firefighters extinguish the blaze.
Details of a conversation between Knaus and an air traffic controller were published in the media.
The controller was heard to say: “Banner Zero Alpha Bravo, everything okay? You’re descending rapidly”. Later this was followed by: “Everybody full staff, I have an aircraft in distress”.
NTSB safety investigators Brian Rayner said: “They were speaking back and forth, the controller had some concerns about the pilot’s altitude, and he reassured the controller that he was going to continue the flight. And then I think the conversation changed somewhat later in the flight.”
The investigation into the tragedy will look at the pilot, the machine and the environment.
“The FAA Flight Standards Office deployed a team of inspectors, and they completed a lot of the on-scene work for me. We are affecting the recovery of the wreckage, we are going to move it to an aircraft recovery facility where we will continue a more detailed examination of the wreckage,” Rayner said.
It is understood that the pilot had approximately 325 total hours of flight experience and around 13 – 15 hours of experience in the aircraft make and model.
Knaus was the only person aboard the aircraft and despite the plane landing in a busy area, no one on the ground was injured.