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Florida Plane Crash Kills Student Pilot and Flight Instructor

By Orlando Personal Injury Attorney on January 28, 2015

The number of private pilots in the United States is steadily decreasing. In 2000, there were over 250,000 licensed private pilots in the country. By 2007, that number had slipped to around 210,000. It increased slightly in 2009, but stands at around 210,000. While the numbers have declined, people are still interested in getting a pilot’s license. It takes hours of flight time to become a licensed pilot.

On January 22, a student pilot learned that flying can be dangerous even if the proper safety precautions are taken. On that a day, a plane crashed and killed a student pilot and a flight teacher. The crash occurred around 10 a.m. in Lakeland, which is near Tampa Bay. Nobody was injured besides the two occupants in the plane.

The Piper Apache 23 from owned and operated by Tailwheels Etc., a flight school at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport. The crash killed instructor Terry Butt, 62, of Winter Haven, Florida, and student Gregory Geng, 41, of Hudson, Florida. It is unclear what caused the accident, but witnesses said the nose of the plane dipped and the plane began spiraling downward. It crashed into a warehouse at 5300 Allen K. Breed Highway, exploding on impact.

The crash caused a fire to break out at a former plastic manufacturing plant, and calls immediately flooded into the local 911-call center. The warehouse contained volatile chemicals, so firefighters were not able to battle the blaze for some time. When they reached the warehouse, it was clear that the occupants of the plane had died upon impact. The firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the fire, but the building sustained heavy damage. The smoke had blown away from residences in the area so nobody was ever in danger from the potentially toxic smoke.

Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration were called to scene and are investigating the cause of the crash. A preliminary report should be available a few weeks, but a full report could take several months.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an aviation accident, contact the Law Offices of James O. Cunningham, P.A. immediately at 877-FL-INJURY (877-354-6587) for a free initial consultation.

James O. Cunningham

Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.

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