MIDDLEBURG, Fla. – One of the three people killed Wednesday when a small plane went down in Middleburg was a loving father and grandfather who would take the shirt off his back for anyone, his family told News4Jax on Thursday.
Carl “CJ” Powell was among the three victims who died Wednesday morning, his family said. They said he was flying with two friends the day of the crash.
Powell’s wife and daughters said Thursday described him as invincible and they still feel like he’ll walk through the door at any moment.
The family told News4Jax they don’t know much about the crash but they will cherish the loving person they lost.
Powell, who was 76, owned the single-engine Beechcraft Musketeer had flown planes for many years, but the family said a second person aboard also knew how to fly, so it’s unclear who was at the controls when the plane went down.
In a statement about the crash, the FAA said the plane crashed about 9 a.m. Wednesday in a wooded area off Violet Way shortly after departure from Spencer’s Airpark.
All three people aboard died at the scene, the Florida Highway Patrol confirmed that afternoon.
The crash is being investigated by the NTSB, which said a preliminary report can take up to 12 days and up to two years for a full investigation.
Powell’s family described him as a wonderful father and grandfather who would always check with each member of the family to make sure they were OK. His daughter says he was adventurous and would go skiing, boating and sky diving.
Powell’s wife says he retired from the Jacksonville Police Office reserve, flew helicopters and loved working with Pilots and Paws, a nonprofit that coordinates volunteer pilots and plane owners willing to assist with transporting animals being rescued, sheltered or adopted.
They said Powell died doing something he loved.
“It would initially appear the airplane in the process of taking off either didn’t get airborne or did not achieve enough height to clear the trees at the end of the runway,” aviation expert Ed Booth told News4Jax on Wednesday.
Booth said it appears this plane was flying without logging a flight plan first, which FHP confirmed, which is not unusual for flights of small planes making local flights.
“You are taught that when you’re operating off of grass it takes longer to accelerate primarily. You have to use some care on a soft surface like that. But this is a long enough runway for any properly loaded aircraft,” Booth said.
Booth said the plane was flying around 10 miles southwest of Cecil Field and could have requested guidance from the tower there. He also wonders whether there was too much weight in the small plane for takeoff.
“They will look at the airplane loading. Three people and some baggage can exceed the weight limits of many 4 passenger airplanes,” Booth said.
Firefighters contained a small brush fire at the crash scene at 9:22 a.m.