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June 24, 2011
Two civilians died in the twilight hours of Thursday morning when a small Beechcraft plane crashed near a runway at Eglin Air Force Base in Eglin, Florida.
The plane was piloted by a retired Air Force Colonel who lived in Shalimar and had rented the plane---a Beechcraft C24R Sierra--through Eglin’s Aero Club. Prior to the crash, the pilot had been taking the plane through routine training maneuvers for about 30 minutes.
“In essence [training exercises involve] flying around the general runway area and setting up to practice takeoffs and landings or approaches to takeoffs and landings,” explained Col. Michael T. Brewer, commander of the 46th Test Wing, during a press conference on Thursday.
The male passenger, a resident of Apalachicola, was also a registered pilot.
No distress calls were made to air traffic controllers and the cause of the crash is not immediately known.
The Eglin Air Force Base rents planes to civilian pilots through its Aero Club flight school.
An Air Force safety board will investigate the crash with the help of officials from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.
“This always hits an Air Force family hard,” said Brewer. “Our first condolences go out to the family, and obviously, whatever we can do in order to help the family ... that’s where our thoughts and prayers are.”
Flights headed out of Northwest Florida Regional Airport were delayed for 15 minutes Thursday morning because of the crash, the airport’s Operations Manager Bill Potter told Northwest Florida Daily News.
Do you think civilians should be permitted to rent planes belonging to the Air Force?
If you or someone you know has had their safety compromised on a commercial or private aircraft, contact the national aviation lawyers at Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy.
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