The investigations into a Fatal Banner plane crash in Hollywood was underway on Thursday as new details about the killed pilot were released.
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were at the scene Thursday morning as the wreckage of the plane was removed piece by piece.
It was approximately 12:35 p.m. Wednesday when the single-engine yellow Piper PA-25-235 airplane crashed on North Park Road next to a Target parking lot and not far from Memorial Regional Hospital.
In emergency calls released Thursday, witnesses described the moment the plane crashed.
Hear the full distress calls from the moment a pilot was killed when a banner plane crashed on a South Florida street.
“Hi, I’m on North Park Road, right in front of Target, and it looks like a small plane just crashed onto the road,” one woman told an emergency responder. “It burns, yes, it exploded.”
“I heard a loud bang and it immediately burst into flames. So I’d say whoever was in it probably won’t come out,” she added.
Cell phone videos from witnesses showed the plane burning on the roadway after the crash.
NBC6’s Julia Bagg opens up about the crash that killed the pilot on board.
The pilot, the only person on board, died. He was identified by Hollywood police as 28-year-old Mitchell Knaus. A friend told NBC6 that Knaus has been an airline pilot for some time.
Knaus only moved to South Florida from California a month and a half ago, his roommate said.
“On the morning of the accident, we went jogging together in the park next to the house and then we just said goodbye until later tomorrow or tonight, and then the accident happened,” said Daniel Corti, Knaus’ roommate.
Federal Aviation Administration officials said the plane was owned by Aerial Banners, which uses planes to advertise businesses.
A spokesman for the NTSB said Thursday that Knaus had about 325 hours of commercial flying experience but less than 20 hours of flying the type of banner plane that crashed.
“I know he was recently hired by this company. He had received extensive on-site and classroom training,” said NTSB Chief Security Investigator Brian Rayner. “He had a total of 13 to 15 hours of actual flight experience on this make and model aircraft.”
A radio transmission from the air traffic control tower captured the moments when the plane dived.
“Banner Zero Alpha Bravo, are you alright? You dismount quickly,” asks the tower controller. “All full staff, I have a plane in distress.”
“They chatted back and forth and the controller had some concerns about the pilot’s altitude and reassured the controller that he would continue the flight, and then the conversation changed a little later in flight,” Rayner said.
Although the plane crashed on a public road near a busy intersection and shopping mall, no one on the ground was injured.
“It is random. It’s a tragedy when there’s a fatality, but the fact that we don’t have any ground injuries is encouraging because sometimes we don’t do so well,” Rayner said.
The NTSB said the plane took off from North Perry Airport and carried a large banner advertising Aerial Banners’ services.
NBC6 noted that Aerial Banners was linked to five crashes and forced landings between 2014 and 2019. A 2019 crash saw some of the worst wreckage after the plane slammed into the side of a condominium near Fort Lauderdale, plummeting 14 stories onto a pool deck and killing the pilot.
NBC6 asked Aerial Banners for comment and awaited a response.