NTSB report: Student was flying plane involved in March 7 fatal collision in Winter Haven
An update from the National Transportation Safety Board confirmed that a student pilot was flying one of the two planes involved in a March 7 crash in Winter Haven that killed four people.
Two small planes collided above Lake Hartridge, resulting in the deaths of two aboard each craft. A Piper PA-28 Cherokee carried Faith Irene Baker, 24, of Winter Haven, a pilot and flight instructor with Sunrise Aviation; and Zachary Jean Mace, 19, of Winter Haven, a student at Polk State College.
That plane collided with a Piper J3 Cub seaplane carrying Louis C. Defazio, 78, a part-time Winter Haven resident from Fredericksburg, Texas, and Randall Elbert Crawford, 67 of Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
The preliminary report confirmed many details an NTSB investigator had provided during media briefings in the days following the crash. The J3 Cub was returning to Jack Brown’s Seaplane Base on the shore of Lake Jessie for a water landing and had approached from the north and had just turned to head west, according to a witness cited in the report.
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The pilot of the Cherokee was performing power-off, 180-degree landing maneuvers at Winter Haven Regional Airport, just west of Lake Hartridge, the report said. The J3C appeared to be lower than the Cherokee, according to the witness.
The Cherokee was equipped with a radio and announced a left turn to the traffic pattern toward the airport four seconds before the collision, the report said.
The J3C Cub was not equipped with a radio and was not announcing its route or able to receive transmissions on the common traffic advisory frequency, the report said.
The planes collided nearly straight on at an altitude of about 575 feet above sea level, based on Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast data, the report said. Surveillance video footage showed that the planes made no altitude or heading changes immediately before the collision.
Examination of both airframes and engines found no evidence of any mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have affected the operation of the planes, the report said. NTSB inspectors removed both planes from Lake Hartridge and had the wreckage shipped to Jacksonville for further inspection.
The crash occurred in clear skies with visibility of 10 miles, the report said.
This article originally appeared on The Ledger: NTSB confirms student flew plane in fatal Winter Haven crash