Four people were killed on Tuesday after two small airplanes crashed into each other over the Everglades.
According to news reports, people who live around the Everglades heard an explosion at around 1 p.m. and called the police. The airplanes were seen in a remote area accessible only by helicopters and airboats.
“The preliminary information revealed that both plans were training flight students,” Detective Alvaro Zabaleta of the Miami-Dade police told news sources. “One of the aircrafts had two people onboard, leading investigators to believe that the second aircraft also had two.”
A Cessna 172 and a Piper PA-34 departed from Miami Executive Airport on Tuesday afternoon and somehow collided in the sky and crashed to the ground, about nine miles west from where they took off.
After a search if the area, Miami-Dade fire rescue recovered the bodies of Jorge A. Sanchez, 22, Ralph Knight, 72, and Nisha Sejwal, 19, on Tuesday night. The body of Carlos Alfredo Zanetti Scarpati, 22, was recovered on Wednesday morning. Police believe Sanchez was flying with Scarpati and that Sejwal and Knight were in the other plane.
Sanchez was reportedly a flight instructor at Dean International. Knight was an inspector who worked for the FAA and Sejwal was on a routine flight check to maintain her certification. Scarpati’s role is still unknown.
Both planes reportedly belong to Dean International Flight School, located at Miami Executive Airport, 14150 SW 129th Street, Miami. No flight plan was filed for either plane, the FAA said, and it isn’t clear if the pilots were conducting some type of flight check or flight lessons.
This isn’t the first airplane crash linked to Dean International Flight School. The school was involved in two crashes in July 2017, one of which led to the death of student pilot Mark Ukaera. The other crash involved a flight instructor and a student, but both men survived with minor injuries.
Records from the FAA show that the school has had 26 incidents involving aircraft since 2007, including another student death in 2014. The FAA issued warning notices and fines to the school in several of the cases. Official reports outlined a number of problems, including failed pre-flight inspections and insufficient maintenance of fuel and oil fluid levels.
“Our ration of accidents is far less then the other schools at our airport. Our aircrafts do approximately 50,000 flight hours per year compared to other schools that operate 10 to 15 aircrafts per year and do 10,000 to 12,000 hours per year,” Robert Dean, the owner of Dean International, told news sources after the July 2017 crashes.
Dean International reportedly has 50 planes and trains more than 350 pilots per year.
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