One dead in small plane crash at airpark in Clearwater

Posted at 8:06 PM, May 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-08 01:58:49-04

UPDATE 7:00 a.m. - SATURDAY:

The pilot who died in a small plane crash at Clearwater Airpark late Friday has been identified as James R. Fink of Exeter, R.I., Clearwater Police Department said.

Fink, 44, was flying a 2007 Cirrus fixed-wing, single-engine aircraft when he attempted to land on the airpark runway Friday evening, Clearwater police spokesman Rob Shaw said in a statement.

The pilot was coming to Clearwater to attend a business conference.

National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration officials are expected to arrive late Saturday morning to begin their investigation, Shaw said.


Authorities said a plane, trying to land at Clearwater Airpark, flipped upside down and they believe preliminarily it was because of strong winds.

The Cirrus aircraft is registered out of state. The pilot did not survive the crash. Authorities have not released information about his identity.

Authorities said the single-engine aircraft was trying to land, Friday evening, when something went wrong.

"And at about the same time, there's a lot of gusty winds out here so about that same time a gust of wind might have caused it to flip and overturn on its top," Rob Shaw, with Clearwater Public Safety, said.

The NTSB and FAA are expected to arrive Saturday to take over the investigation and determine the cause of the crash. Authorities said the runway at Clearwater Air Park is not going to reopen until around 3 p.m. Saturday.

Carrie Hart lives near the airport. She said she heard sirens and knew something happened.

"I was down here by myself before and she had just got(ten) home from work and we came both down here so that we could just say a little prayer for him and his family," Hart said.

Authorities are asking anyone who heard or saw anything unusual with the plane as it was landing to call 562-4242.