NewsPolk County


2 men in critical condition after small plane crash in Polk County orange grove

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Posted at 9:06 AM, Jan 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-13 09:06:07-05

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — The Polk County Sheriff's Office said on Thursday morning that two men are in critical condition after they crashed a small seaplane into an orange grove on Wednesday afternoon.

According to the sheriff's office, the crash happened at 2:30 p.m. Authorities said John "Jack" Hamilton, 77, and Landen MacFarland, 22, were trying to land the two-seater Seaplane on Lake Smart when they crashed.

The sheriff's office said after the pontoons landed on the lake, one of the wings dipped into the water and caused the plane to catapult upward 50 feet before it crashed nose-first into an orange grove that's about 40 years away from the lake.

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Hamilton is a licensed pilot from Tennessee who was visiting the Orlando area. MacFarland is a flight instructor from Stuart.

The sheriff's office said Hamilton went to the Jack Brown Seaplane Base in Winter Haven and asked to fly with an instructor as a refresher course.

After the crash, the sheriff's office said both men were taken to a local hospital with serious injuries. Both are currently listed in critical condition.

Several 911 calls were made about the crash, the sheriff's office said. Winter Haven Police, Winter Haven Fire, and PCSO deputies all responded.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are investigating the crash.