2 killed after gyrocopter crashes, ignites during test flight near Gainesville
MELROSE, Fla. — Two people were killed after the pilot of a gyrocopter made an emergency landing near Gainesville, causing the aircraft to burst into flames.
The experimental plane crashed into a private field on Saturday during a test flight.
Area residents were shocked to learn about the tragic fiery crash.
Laurie Peltra said her granddaughter saw it go down.
“Yeah, she came up to me, and said, ‘A helicopter just fell out of the sky,” she said.
Investigators said the gyrocopter appeared to have been homemade by the pilot.
Devastating video showed the plane on fire.
Shaken by the sight, Peltra sais, she called police immediately.
“It was surreal, because you don’t expect something to fall out of the sky in the pasture next to your house,” she said.
Authorities hailed the victims as heroes. They said the pilot made a last-effort maneuver to avoid crashing into homes.
“In probably a last heroic moment, the person that was operating the gyrocopter crashed in between, almost, two buildings — a small barn-type building and a house,” said Clay County Sheriff Michelle Cook. “He was probably within 100 feet of either.”
Peltra said she had never seen this plane before, but there are frequent flyers in the area.
Now, she said, she is just praying for everyone involved.
“From the minute we saw it happen, we’ve been praying for peace and everything for the family, and we are so sorry that this happened to them,” she said.
The crash remains under investigation. As of Sunday evening, authorities have not identified the victims.