NTSB begins searching for cause of deadly plane crash in Bartow

Polk County

BARTOW, Fla. (WFLA) – Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board examined the wreckage of a small plane on Friday that crashed near the Bartow Executive Airport just before 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

NTSB Safety Investigator Lynn Spencer says the aircraft is a Mooney M20P that belonged to the Spruce Creek Flying Club in Daytona. Both people on board the aircraft died at the scene.

Spencer says the plane was flying as part of a group of four planes flying in formation.

“This was aircraft number four. Aircraft number one landed, followed very quickly by aircraft two and three. They waited for aircraft number four (but) it had crashed,” Spencer said.

The NTSB says there is no evidence to show the planes hit each other before the crash.

Spencer says investigators will look at a number of factors to determine what went wrong.

“We look at the man, machine and the environment. So we will be looking at the aircraft, all of the records, all of the maintenance. We will be looking at the pilot, all of his ratings,” said Spencer.

Witnesses say the plane sounded odd just before it went down.

“It was just kind of a swoosh, you know and then bang,” said James Williams.

Williams was in his home just a few yards away from the crash.

“I’m not sure if the motor was running or not, you know,” said Williams.

Rebecca Weller lives just across the street and believes the plane was having some kind of engine problem.

“It sounded like the propeller went out, like air took the engine and it sputtered and then went down,” said Weller.

She works as a nanny and was in her house with several children when the crash happened.

“We don’t understand how he missed this house and missed the goal post and everything. I think he maneuvered it. I think the couple maneuvered it to where it landed to miss all of the houses and it didn’t catch fire,” said Weller.

The NTSB says they will have a preliminary report on the crash in approximately 10 days. It could take up to two years before the final report on the cause of the crash is complete.

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