FORT LAUDERDALE, FL. -- Three are dead in a twin-engine airplane crash near the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport. Details are still pending an investigation by the National Transportation Board about why the plane crashed suddenly and who owned the twin engine aircraft.
The three who perished in the crash were 65-year old commercial pilot Steve Waller and two passengers, Wallace "Wally" Watson, 66 and son Kevin W. Watson, 30. The Watson's owed Avionics Engineering of Ft. Lauderdale, Inc. and were reportedly doing a short test flight after some radios had been installed in the plane by the Watsons' company.
Waller was an experienced commercial pilot with a ground and flight instructor license as well as aircraft mechanic license.
The aircraft reportedly was a 1978 PA-31 Piper Navajo Chieftan. Coincidentally, according to flight plans filed Friday another 8-passenger Navajo had taken off from the executive airport on Florida's southeast coast at 4:34 p.m. bound for Nassau Bahamas, a 45-minute flight, about the same time of the aircraft crash.
In researching FAA aircraft records, pending release of information from the NTSB, there seems to be a PA-31-350 aircraft matching the crashed aircraft's description owned by Miami Aviation Service, Inc. from Miami.
The Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel newspaper reported the aircraft was owned by Miami Aviation Specialist, Inc. of Ft. Lauderdale.
But FAA records show no aircraft owned by the Ft. Lauderdale company, but shows a PA-31 plane owned by the Miami company that had it's registration cancelled in April 1996
Witnesses say they saw the plane descend and crash into a warehouse parking lot. No one was injured on the ground, but about seven vehicles were heavily damaged from the fiery crash of the plane near the side of a warehouse near North Powerline Road and 53rd Street in Fort Lauderdale.
Details of the crash are pending investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board which may release a preliminary report in a week, and a final report in a few months.
(Last updated: 10:30 a.m. March 17th)