JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two people who were on board a small airplane died Sunday when it crashed near an airport on Jacksonville’s Westside, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
The FAA said the crash happened around 11:30 a.m. about a mile from Herlong Recreational Airport. The single-engine Mooney M20J crashed in a field off Parrish Cemetery Road after departing from the airport and flying for about 20 minutes, according to JSO.
Witnesses said they saw the plane nosedive seconds before the crash. Video taken shortly after shows the plane on fire.
One witness, Kevin Williams, ran outside after hearing the plane crash.
“We immediately saw the plane on the ground engulfed in flames,” he said. “Myself and some family members hopped across the fence to try to see if we saw people that got outside the plane or anything like that but unfortunately, we didn’t see anybody.”
The FAA and NTSB will determine the cause of the crash. No other details were immediately known, including the identity of the passengers.
“The plane was pretty much totally engulfed in flames, and at that point there was really nothing that we could do,” said Williams.
He says he and his family called the police.
“We were hoping because we actually did see parachuters behind the actual plane. We were thinking maybe those were the people that got out but that wasn’t the case,” said Williams.
News4Jax aviation expert Ed Booth says the plane burning in flames means it didn’t run out of fuel.
“The airplane appeared to be flying normally and was in the last stage of its approach back to the airport when it loses control and hits the ground,” Booth said. “One of the few factors consistent with that would be an engine failure. And it’s possible to lose control of an airplane with a fully functioning engine but this airplane flew successfully for about 20 minutes today become before becoming or coming to this unfortunate and an outcome.”
Flight Aware says the owner of the plane is out of Montana.
The Flight Aware flight track log shows the plane dropping in speed in the last minutes before the crash.
“That portion of the landing pattern, they should be somewhere between five and 700 feet, in an airplane of that type without its engine running will reach the ground in a very short period of time. And it’s incumbent upon the pilot to maintain control of the airplane, which often means rather aggressively pointing the nose down to maintain proper flying speed,” said Booth.
He also said without air traffic control at Herlong airport, it makes it a bit harder to understand the crash.
“An air traffic controller is one of the primary witnesses that the investigators rely on to initially tell them what happened. We don’t have that information and may never have it,” said Booth.
JSOs homicide unit, NTSB, and the FAA are investigating this crash.
JSO said they haven’t identified the two victims.
And its last flight was Dec. 17th, where it flew for 18 minutes.