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Banner plane crashes into Florida condominium killing pilot

By
Danielle Haynes

March 1 (UPI) -- A small plane towing a banner crashed Friday into an 18-story condominium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., killing the pilot, emergency officials said.

The plane, which the Federal Aviation Administration believes was a Piper PA-25, crashed near the beach.

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"The banner plane that was flying up and down the beach made contact with the building on the east side between the 16th or 17th floor," Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Stephan Gollan told the Sun Sentinel. "The occupant of that condo was in there at the time but was not injured."

Gollan said the debris from the plane fell onto a pool deck multiple floors below where it hit the building. There were about 20 construction workers doing renovation work on the pool deck at the time, though none was injured.

"It could have been substantially worse with a lot more injuries on scene," he said. "There was flammable material up there from the construction that's taking place. Now you load an aircraft on a building that's already under construction, plus there's a load of [plane] debris on top of that that's just fallen 16 floors, 160 feet out of the sky."

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One witness said they observed the plane flying low in the area before the crash. Another told WSVN-TV in Miami that the banner it was towing appeared to snag on something before the plane made contact with the building.

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