N269VE was up for sale, and this flight was apparently to show it to a prospective customer. It went down in a swamp. Below is a brief news account.

2 Dead In Plane Crash At St. Augustine Airport

POSTED: Thursday, July 31, 2008
St. Augustine plane crash
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — The owner of an aviation company and a man interested in buying an airplane were killed Thursday afternoon when the plane they were in went down just after takeoff from the St. Augustine Airport.

St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Chuck Mulligan told WJXT that both men on board the aircraft died when it went down in a marsh just east of the runway at about 2:45 p.m.

The pilot was Gene Powers, 51, of St. Augustine. Early Friday, authorities identified the second victim as 52-year-ol Hal Peterson, of Bonifay, Fla.

Powers was the owner of Wind Dancer Aviation, which provides maintenance service for planes at the St. Augustine Airport.

The crash of a Velocity — a kit-built aircraft — occurred on airport property between the runway and the marsh. Witnesses said heavy weather was passing just north of the airport about the time the plane went down.

Rescuers had to wade through chest-high mud to get to the wreckage.

Wind Dancer Aviation’s Web site showed a 2002 Velocity RG for sale, and Channel 4’s Jennifer Bauer was told by airport officials that Powers was taking the plane for a prospective buyer to see when the plane crashed.

Airport officials said Powers was an experienced pilot with commercial certification.

Powers friends said his passion was flying and he could always be found at the airport.

“(He was) very outgoing, very friendly, very knowledgeable, very good, experienced commercial pilot,” said St. Augustine Airport assistant manager Brian Cooper.

Velocity RG for sale
Wind Dancer Aviation lists this 2002 Velocity RG for sale. According to its Web site, the plane had 203 hours total time and it had just had its annual inspection.
Powers began his career in Operation Desert Storm while serving with the 82nd Airborne Division. That’s why Cooper said he was puzzled at why Powers and another pilot ended up losing their lives.

“I’ve flown with him. He’s flown my airplane. He was very experienced – a more than adequate pilot,” Cooper said.

Authorities said the plane was owned by George Morris, of Orange Park.

Airport officials said the plane took off traveling south, but they said once the aircraft got about 200 or 300 feet in the air, it took a turn, appeared to have a control issue and ended up in the marsh.

“It wasn’t a smooth takeoff. The plane seemed to be bouncing. I guess it got up just a little bit, and then it went nose first into the marsh,” said Maria Canepa, who works at the airport.

Scott Baker, president of Velocity Aircraft, said there are about 500 of the company’s planes flying and there’s never been a single crash blamed on the aircraft.

“It is inherently a very strong aircraft. It’s not a fragile aircraft by any means,” Baker said. “Certainly when pilots find themselves in hazardous weather, like thunderstorms, controllability comes into question.”

“I would be shocked if there is any pilot error involved in this crash. Knowing the pilot, I just can’t believe that it would be pilot error,” Cooper said.

In addition to local investigators, the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration were notified of the crash. Since the crash involved a fatality, the NTSB is expected to do an on-site investigation.

Copyright 2008 by News4Jax.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

| FAA | NTSB Final | News |

Posted By: Brett Ferrell
Thursday July 31st, 2008 at 9:34 AM

Categories: Accidents
Tags: 2008 Fatal FL Forhan N269VE RG SE St. Augustine Velocity

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