Fri, May 11, 2012
Takeoff Accident Claims Life Of Pilot Builder
A man from Fort Walton Beach, Florida was fatally injured Wednesday morning when the aircraft he built and owned crashed during takeoff. Pablino Gutierrez, 77, was the sole occupant aboard the Hummel Bird experimental aircraft (similar airplane pictured from file) when it crashed shortly after takeoff at Defuniak springs Municipal Airport. DeFuniak Springs Police Lt. Tilman Mears said the aircraft was “in the process of taking off” when it ran into trouble. “Witnesses say for some reason it made a dive to the ground nose-first,” he said.
The NWF Daily News reported that Barbara Rafuse, who has worked at a gas station across from the airport for five years, said a delivery man came in the store and said he saw a plane take off, but that it was moving “erratically” through the air.
“He said it was kind of going along funny, and then it went down and he didn’t see it come back up again, so he was concerned,” she said. They called 911. Hilda Bakalo, who has lived near the airport for 35 years, said she saw the “small, small plane” after the crash and recognized it as one she’d seen several times.“I came home from work and saw all the ambulances and fire crews,” she said.
The FAA registry said the Hummel Bird model was an experimental aircraft built in 2010. It listed Gutierrez of Oakland Circle as the owner and manufacturer. A lightning storm moved through the area shortly after the crash, causing a short delay in the investigation.
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