NTSB: Plane That Crashed Into Grocery Store Had Mechanical Problems

Two Illinois men in the plane were injured, as were three people in the grocery store

A plane that crashed into a Florida supermarket last week, injuring an Aurora attorney, had mechanical problems prior to the crash, according to a National Transportation Safety Board report released Monday.

The preliminary report says the pilot made an unscheduled stop at the DeLand Municipal Airport because the aircraft's transponder stopped working. The plane crashed shortly after leaving DeLand, bound for Daytona Beach, where the transponder was to be replaced.

From the report:

The airplane rotated about 500 feet prior to the end of the runway, and began a shallow climb, while mostly maintaining a high pitch angle. Shortly thereafter, [another pilot who witnessed the crash]  observed the airplane "stall" and enter a descending left spin, before it disappeared behind a tree line. He did not hear any communications from the accident airplane over the airport common traffic advisory frequency after the takeoff.

The Seawind 3000, owned by Aurora's Kim Presbrey, crashed through the roof of a Publix grocery store. Presbrey and another Illinois man, a commercial pilot, were injured in the crash, as were three people inside the grocery store.

DeLand police last week ID'd the commercial pilot as Thomas Rhoades of Bull Valley, Ill. The NTSB report does not mention which man was at the controls of the plane when it went down.

The pilots' ultimate destination, prior to being diverted to Daytona Beach, was Altamonte Springs, Fla., where they were to begin training for a seaplane rating, the NTSB said.  

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