Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Beech 18S crashes at Opa Locka Airport

Officials said a pilot has died after the twin-engine plane he was flying crashed just a few feet from a home right after takeoff from the Opa-Locka Airport (OPF) Monday morning.

The plane crashed through some trees, a metal fence and into two cars before bursting into flames on the side of a home near Northwest 157th Street and 38th Way. According to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, the call came in at 8:10 a.m. "It was going on a charter to the Bahamas. We do have information that there is one person at least that is dead. It doesn't look like anybody else is dead. NTSB will be investigating," said a Public Information Officer for the Miami Gardens Police Department.

7 Skyforce was in the area covering a traffic report when a warning went out by the air traffic controllers from the Opa-Locka Airport (OPF) to be on the lookout for the plane. Shortly after that warning, 7's Steven J. Gray, on board 7 Skyforce, saw the huge plume of smoke near the airport.

Firefighters quickly arrived on the scene and doused the fierce flames with water and foam. The fire did spread to the side of the home, but firefighters managed to put out the fire before it engulfed the entire home.

It remains unknown if anyone else was on board the aircraft. "Obviously, we definitely have at least one fatality, which is the pilot. We don't have any information that there are any other occupants on the plane," said a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Official. Officials said no one in the home was injured.

Authorities have closed both southbound and northbound 157th Street as officials arrive to begin the investigation. "What will happen at this point," said Arlene Salac, spokesperson for the FAA, "our flight standard inspectors will come to the scene from our local office to start the investigation, which I'm sure, they will be joined by the National Transportation Safety Board, who will be in charge of the investigation."

Officials have described the plane as a Beachcraft 18. "It is an older plane, built in the late 50s, and we do have information that it had been used for cargo, even though we don't know what that cargo is right now," said a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Official.

In better times, I took the above photo in September 2004 when the Beech 18S (c/n BA-312) N18R was operated by Phoenix Air transport / Catalina flying Boats. The aircraft is captured taxiing on "Delta" towards a Rwy 30 departure at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB).

(Photo by Michael Carter)  

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