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.
According to CBS News investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) were gathering evidence at the scene on Thursday, May 18, 2023.
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.