Victim Identified By Family As John A. Hambleton
ANN REALTIME UPDATE
03.06.09 2030 EST: Officials have identified the type of
aircraft that crashed into a recreational vehicle park in downtown
Ocala, FL Friday afternoon, and family members say the sole victim
was owner John A. Hambleton.
The accident aircraft was a homebuilt Stewart S-51, a scale
replica of the WWII-vintage P-51 Mustang (similar to file photo,
below). FAA records indicate the plane was built in 2002 by
California pilot and noted racing aircraft builder Kevin Eldredge;
it was registered to Hambleton, 80, at an address about 15 miles
north of the site of Friday's accident.
No one on the ground was injured when the plane impacted two
fifth-wheel travel trailers parked at the RV park just before 3 pm
EST. Witnesses told the Orlando Sentinel they heard the aircraft
sputter and 'pop' immediately before it crashed into trees
surrounding the park, and then impacted the trailers.
"I heard the crack, crack, crack," said Mike Hishon, whose RV
was parked nearby. "I heard the engine roar up. And then it
crashed. It was engulfed in flames."
Officials had not released the pilot's identity as of Friday
evening, but Rhonda Hambleton told the Ocala Star Banner her
husband's father was the pilot of the accident plane.
"Any pilot in Ocala would know him," she said of the victim. "He
was a great man -- unbelievably respected by everybody."
Investigators with the FAA are expected on scene by Saturday
1700 EST: The pilot of a small fixed-wing
aircraft, type presently unknown, was killed when the plane
impacted a recreational vehicle parking area in Ocala, FL Friday
According to the Ocala Star Banner, local authorities received
calls about an aircraft accident just before 3 pm local time.
Firefighters were on scene within moments, and found two RVs on
fire at the Wild Frontier RV Park off NW Gainesville Road, about
eight miles northeast from Ocala Regional Airport.
No one was inside either RV, according to local officials. The
pilot was believed to be the only person onboard the aircraft.
Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Mike Thomas told the paper he was
nearby when he saw a plane flying from east to west. He says he
then heard a 'pop,' and saw the plane's wings rock back and forth
several times before it turned north, and rapidly descended.
The plane exploded on impact. Tenants in the RV park said the
force of the blast lifted both RVs that were hit into the air.
Wild Frontier employee Tony Kubis said he saw what appeared to
be the tail of a vintage aircraft in the smoke from the explosion.
The plane was described as a "homebuilt" aircraft in news
FAA spokesperson Kathleen Bergan told the Associated Press the
aircraft was registered to John A. Hambleton, though the identity
of the plane's pilot has not been released.
FAA records show four aircraft registered to a John Hambleton
at the same address in Ocala -- two Champs, a homebuilt
S-51 and a Rotorway Exec helicopter.