Indian woman among 3 killed as two training aircraft collide midair in US
Washington, Jul 18 : A 19-year-old trainee pilot from India was among three people killed when two small training aircraft from a flight school collided midair in the US state of Florida, authorities said today.
The two small planes likely to piloted by trainers smashed into each other yesterday over the Florida Everglades near Miami, the Federal Aviation Administration said, the Miami Herald reported.
The two aircraft — Piper PA-34 and Cessna 172 — belonged to Dean International, a flight school in Miami that has a history of more than two dozen incidents and accidents in the decade between 2007 and 2017, Miami Dade County Mayor said.
Police confirmed at least three deaths and are investigating whether a fourth person was killed.
Police identified the three victims as Nisha Sejwal from India and Jorge Sanchez, 22 and Ralph Knight, 72.
Sejwal had enrolled in flight school in September 2017, according to her Facebook page.
The debris of the crashed planes was located in a region only accessible by airboats.
Two victims were discovered at the wreckage of one small plane and a third was found near the crash site of the second aircraft.
“Preliminary information that is coming into our homicide detectives is that the two planes were possibly training, which leads us to believe that you have a pilot and a trainer or trainer and a student, and in another plane a trainer and student,” Miami-Dade police spokesman Alvaro Zabaleta said.
The search and rescue effort was suspended yesterday due to the low visibility.
A witness named Daniel Miralles, who was fishing in a canal near the airport, said he looked up in time to see the planes collide and record video of falling debris on his cellphone.
“I heard a weird sound. It sounded like a plane, but it it sounded too close. It sounded like an 18-wheeler going 100 mph down the street,” said Miralles.
Dean International’s website says it offers primary instruction for student pilots, advanced instruction for private and commercial pilots and training for multi-engine flights.