NTSB, FAA investigating fatal plane crash

WELLINGTON, Fla. - Federal officials with the FAA and NTSB are investigating a fatal plane crash in Wellington that killed the pilot.

On Tuesday, the plane still sat in the lake off Greenbriar Boulevard.

Witnesses described the plane as moving wildly through the air before crashing into the water Monday afternoon.

The identity of the pilot killed in the crash has not been released.

Rescue crews said when units arrived at the crash, they found the aircraft partially submerged in a lake, and one person dead inside the cockpit.

The crash scene is near the Wellington Aero Club and Wellington Dog Park.

Some nearby residents said they head several loud popping noises as if dynamite was exploding.

To Greg Franklin the noises sounded like fireworks: "I see him doing a loop, he came down and came up this way and went straight into the lake but he was up there playin' around." He said, "The motor was popping and I just heard it hit and the motor exploded when it hit the water."

Friends of the victim say he has worked for American Airlines for over two decades flying their biggest airliner – the Boeing 777. They also say he was a former Marine helicopter pilot.

They say he had thousands and thousands of hours of flying experience. At least one person thinks he might have been the most experienced pilot in the Wellington Aero Club and was very well liked in the community.

"He knew his experimental airplane and he has been working on it for the last couple of months. He was happy to get in it today and take it for a ride and he thought he had everything working well and apparently something went wrong. We think it was the engine," friend and neighbor Larry Smith said.

Friends are convinced there was a mechanical problem.

"This is not a common occurrence. Something must have gone wrong if a pilot that experienced with that many years has this happen. Something had to fatally go wrong," friend Steven Daigi said.

NewsChannel 5's Chris Stewart, Christina Noce and Brian Entin contributed to this report.

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