Banner plane crashes into Fort Lauderdale condo building

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A small banner plane crashed into a building along a Fort Lauderdale beach Friday, killing the pilot in a heavily trafficked tourist area.

Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Stephan Gollan told reporters the plane hit an 18-story condominium building just before noon and then fell several floors onto an outdoor pool deck. He said the pilot was killed, but no other injuries were reported. The building's residents were evacuated.

Helicopter video from WPLG-TV and other television stations show the yellow, single-engine Piper PA-25 crumpled with its wings snapped off.

The pilot's name was not released. The plane's markings show it is owned by Aerial Banners Inc. The company's website says it has more than 50 planes at locations around the country, including Miami, Fort Lauderdale, New York City, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Seattle and Alaska.

Vacationer Jim McHugh of New York City told the South Florida Sun Sentinel he was on the beach with his wife when the plane flew past heading north. He said the engine was not sputtering, but the plane banked hard to the left toward the tall buildings that line the area. He said he realized the plane was too low and told his wife it was going to crash just before it did.

"It's a shame the poor guy didn't bank to the right and to the water," he told the paper.

The company's Fort Lauderdale office declined comment. The National Transportation Safety Board said it is investigating.