Article Courtesy of Local 10 News
By Peter Burke
Published March 4, 2019
FORT LAUDERDALE - One
person is dead after a small banner plane
crashed into a condominium building Friday
in Fort Lauderdale.
The crash occurred shortly before noon at
3015 N. Ocean Blvd.
Wayne Leonard, who was
inside the building when the crash occurred, said he heard a
loud noise and felt the building shake.
"All of the sudden we heard the sound of a prop plane, like
out of nowhere, for like three seconds. We heard a really
loud crash and the building shook substantially," Leonard
Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Stephen Gollan
said the plane crashed into the side of the building,
between the 16th and 17th floors, and then landed on the
pool deck below.
"I saw the plane going very, very close to the window. So I
stepped outside and I heard a huge bang and I saw the plane
already had gone down," said Olga Weaver, who lives in a
building next door to where the crash occurred.
"I was in back of my
building putting water in my trees when I saw the low plane right close to
my building. I go, 'Oh my, he is going to hit me!" another nearby resident,
Mike Vilio, said.
Gollan said the building was occupied at the time, but no residents were
injured. He said the building was evacuated as a precaution.
A yellow tarp could be seen covering the body next to the downed plane.
There appeared to be a hole in the side of the building where the plane made
Authorities said about 20 construction workers were on the roof of the
building at the time of the crash, but none of them were injured.
Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said the Piper
PA-25 took off from North Perry Airport in Pembroke Pines.
The plane is registered to Aerial Banners Inc., which is based at North
Perry Airport. Employees at the company locked the front door to their
building after the crash.
A view from Sky 10 showed the banner that the plane had been carrying on the
ground in a nearby neighborhood.
Ken Criswell, who is also a pilot, told Local 10 News he knew whoever was
flying the plane couldn't pull the plane up because they were too low and
going too slow.
"At that slow speed, there was just no control of it," he said. "(The
engine) was running but he just had no power and couldn't climb."
Other planes registered to Aerial Banners Inc. have also been involved in
One of the company's planes crashed in the Florida Everglades in March 2015
about three miles west of U.S. 27. A year before that, another went down in
a lake in northeast Miami-Dade. The pilots in both crashes survived.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating Friday's crash.
"We are deeply saddened for the loss of our fellow aviator today, March 1,
2019," a statement from the North Perry Airport Community Association read
in part. "For reasons still to be determined, a banner towing aircraft
collided with a building along Ft Lauderdale beach. Our thoughts are with
the pilot and his family. We are grateful that there was no further loss of
The statement went on to say that statistically, the operator of the banner
plane has a "great record of minimal incidents for the vast number of
operations they conduct."
"South Florida is an international hub for aviation, airlines, and flight
training," the statement read. "Miami-Dade estimates that 1 in 4 jobs in
South Florida is tied to aviation. Accidents like this are terrible, but it
is through the diligent efforts of the thousands of people working in this
industry that we can strive to maintain safety for our community."