Plane Crashes Into House, Killing Five
DELAND, Fla. (AP) _ A twin-engine plane nose-dived into an empty house here, killing the pilot who had purchased the aircraft only hours earlier and his four passengers, officials said.
The Cessna 421 crashed into the wood-frame house while taking off from DeLand Municipal Airport shortly after noon Wednesday, setting the house and the plane on fire, authorities said.
″Apparently, it took off with a fairly heavy load - a full tank of gas and five passengers. It was making a turn and crashed. Whether it stalled or the pilot had a heart attack ... I don’t know,″ said Hal Pyke, director of the airport.
The pilot, a former military officer with many hours of flying experience, had purchased the plane Wednesday morning from Black Wing Aviation, said Mike Noble, airport manager.
Noble said the pilot inspected the plane with the Black Wing Aviation’s chief pilot before completing the purchase, and then took the plane up three times before loading passengers for the flight to Port Charlotte.
″The plane was in flying condition. Nothing as far as I know was wrong with it,″ Noble said.
The house is one mile west of the busy general-aviation airport. Owner Peggy Ditaranto said the building was subdivided into three apartments and a business office but had been vacant for some time.
″There was no one in there, thank God,″ Ms. Ditaranto said. She said the home was valued about $100,000.
Two men and three women were killed, but their names were withheld pending notification of relatives, said Volusia County Sheriff Edwin Duff.