A small plane towing an advertising banner in Hollywood, Florida, caught fire and crashed on Wednesday around 12:45 pm, killing the pilot. The pilot’s name and the plane’s owner are unknown.
The plane brought the plane down into a well-known shopping center near a Publix and Target store. A news helicopter in the area captured the banner plane on video.
A reporter details the plane’s last moments as it’s seen flying at a low altitude before it careens toward the ground near North Park Road and crashes in flames.
The entire place was an inferno when firefighters arrived on the scene, and the pilot was the only person in the aircraft.
The Federal Aviation Administration identified the plane as a single-engine Piper PA-25-235 and will thoroughly investigate the crash.
The plane crashed just over five miles from North Pembroke Pines and reportedly took off from North Perry Airport.
Witnesses reported feeling the fire’s heat across the street, smelling gasoline, and seeing clouds of smoke.
Karen Schiff, who works at an outpatient Memorial Healthcare System near the Target store, saw the plane low in the air while driving on North Park Road.
She thought the pilot was trying to control the plane so it could land safely away from populated areas.
At the last moments, Schiff said the plane was about 20 feet in the air and did a “nosedive” and crashed 10 feet in front of her car, causing her to make a quick maneuver to swerve around the plane.
She said she parked her car and ran to help, but it was too late. She said he was a hero doing everything he could to avoid injuring anyone on the ground.
Luis Moro, a former banner plane pilot, said planes of the type are usually very easy to maneuver and are safe. He said the pilot was at such a low altitude that recovery would have been challenging for any pilot. He said the pilot acted as a true professional.