A 73-year-old man was killed when the “experimental/homebuilt” plane he was flying crashed into a tree near a Florida airport, according to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.
Pilot Charles Alban of Venice, Florida, died Tuesday, Nov. 15, just minutes after he “traded planes with another pilot,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release.
“Witnesses told sheriff’s deputies that around 3:35 p.m., Alban taxied the plane several times at Blue Ridge Flightpark Airport, a private facility on Maytown Road. Once he got comfortable with the plane, Alban headed south on the airstrip and planned to fly home to Venice,” the sheriff’s office said.
“However, the plane did not appear to climb into the air and suddenly veered left for unknown reasons, hitting the tree.”
Alban, the lone occupant, died just before 5 p.m. after being taken to a hospital, officials said.
A preliminary investigation shows “nothing appeared suspicious about the aircraft” The runway was also searched and investigators found nothing that “might have caused” the plane to veer off course.
Investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board have taken over the investigation, the sheriff’s office said.