Pilot, 65, killed when small plane crashes in Yulee

YULEE, Fla. – The 65-year-old pilot of a small plane was killed Monday morning in a plane crash in the Yulee area, according to the Nassau County Sheriff's Office.

Charlie Yeagle had just taken off from Flying-A-Ranch Airport, a private airport in the 85000 block of Miner Road, when there was some kind of a problem, according to the Sheriff's Office.

A witness told deputies that after taking off, it appeared the plane lost power before crashing.

The plane, a 125 Swift, crashed into marsh about 500 yards from the end of the runway. The site is only accessible by boat.

Undersheriff George Lueders said deputies initially had trouble getting to the plane.

"Luckily, a man here that had a boat that he took the first responding officer out there and they were able to get through the marsh to the plane to check on the condition of the pilot," Lueders said.

The FAA says it is investigating and that the National Transportation Safety Board will determine the crash's probable cause.

Yeagle, a veteran pilot, lived with his wife on the private property where the airport is located. The private airport has been there for nearly 40 years and is owned by a family Yeagle was friends with.

"He was a lifelong pilot," Lueders said of Yeagle. "He started very young and retired from one of the airlines. He was a flight instructor."

Fred Arnett, who owns the landing strip, said investigators are looking into whether the pilot suffered from health problems after takeoff.

People who heard what happened showed up throughout the day. Joey Stephens said his brother just talked to Yeagle about the plane last week.

"My brother was just telling me he'd redone it and was just a really good guy," Stephens said.

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