A young pilot pleaded for help from air traffic control and asked them to tell his parents he loved them, moments before the small plane he was flying crashed in Florida on Tuesday.
The young man could be heard in an audio recording obtained by local news outlet WUFT, telling the air traffic controller that he was lost in poor visibility near Gainesville.
Nearby pilots reported hearing the man plead for help. He had bought the Piper PA-28 airplane just two weeks ago.
“I don’t think I can hold my altitude without descending,” the as-yet unidentified pilot said over the radio. “How many miles am I from Gainesville?”
At around 12:45 p.m. on Tuesday, the plane took off from Kissimmee Gateway Airport and headed 100 miles north towards Gainesville.
Just over an hour later, the Alachua County Sheriff’s Department said it received called from residents that a plane was losing altitude. They then heard a loud “boom” sound.A Piper PA-28RT similar to the plane which crashed in Alachua County, Florida on November 14, 2023AlfvanBeem/Wikimedia
In the recordings heard by WUFT, as the plane was coming down, the pilot asked air traffic control to let his parents know he loved them. It’s thought the plane crashed straight into the ground from as high as 6,800 feet at around 2:10 p.m.
Emergency services eventually found the wreckage at around 5:15 p.m. after searching Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park.
Air traffic control had warned the pilot about poor visibility at his destination shortly before takeoff, due to earlier stormy weather, but cleared him moments later.
The Federal Aviation Authority and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the incident, with the FAA saying the pilot was the only person on board.
NTSB is investigating the crash of a Piper PA-28 airplane in Micanopy, Florida.— NTSB Newsroom (@NTSB_Newsroom) November 15, 2023
The Sheriff’s office said the local medical examiner would officially identify the body. WUFT said the aircraft was sold to Adrien James Valentine, 21, of Melrose, Florida, on Oct. 31.