ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - A small plane crashed at Albert Whitted Airport on Wednesday afternoon, leaving its pilot dead and a passenger injured.
Based on preliminary information, investigators believe the two-seater airplane was being piloted by owner James Allen Finnegan, 79.
Police say Finnegan had previous flight experience, but had not piloted a plane for number of years and was taking refresher training instruction from passenger James Patrick Murphy, 37, at the time of the crash.
According to officers on the scene, the single-engine aircraft was taking off westbound. According to a witness, as the plane began to ascend at a height of 50 to 100 feet, the engine began to sputter and the plane nose-dived into the runway.
A female manager working at The Hangar ran out on the runway and gave Finnegan CPR. Investigators said Finnegan was in cardiac arrest and pronounced dead at the hospital.
"Everybody heard the noise of the fire department cars and then ambulance, ambulance," explained Galina Lee who works nearby.
Murphy's injuries are not life threatening.
"He was conscious and alert and he was speaking to us during the whole thing," said Lt. Joel Granata with St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue.
FAA investigators were at the crash site and requested that the scene be held overnight for further examination in the morning.
The cause of the crash has yet to be determined.
Records of the aircraft, a Lascombe-Silvaire 8A, show it was built in 1947 and was involved in a crash in the late 1960s.
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