'No comment' from utility company after pilot died in crash with power lines

Pilots say they've worried about wires for years

LAND O' LAKES, Fla. - Representatives from Withlacoochee River Electric spent time Monday at Pilot Country Estates in Land O'Lakes.

They took pictures of power lines and went over the scene of Sunday's deadly crash.

Investigators say a 53-year-old pilot from Odessa was trying to land his ultra-light on a runway Sunday morning, but hit some power lines and was killed.

"It hurts when we lose an aviator unnecessarily.  In this case, he died because of the wires," said pilot Leslie Mackeen.

Mackeen says people who live in this fly-in community off State Road 52 have always been worried about the power lines at the south end of the runway.

He says if you have any engine problems coming in, there is no room for error.

"When you have a set of high tension wires in your way and you are coming down, you can't change your glider issue.  If your engine's out, those wires can kill you."

For years there's been talk about widening State Road 52, which would include moving the power lines. But the Department of Transportation tells me that project is still several years away.

Residents say they have had discussions with Withlacoochee about burying the lines underground.  But those talks never went anywhere.

"They just don't want to spend the money, that's what the issue is," said Mackeen.

I called Withlacoochee Electric's main office. They had no comment about the crash, the power lines, or anything else dealing with the concerns at Pilot Country.

Those at Pilot Country say they've been told in the past by utility officials, the wires shouldn't be a concern because they aren't as high as the tree line.

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