VENICE, FLA. - Those who visit the beach near Venice know that it's not rare to see a small single engine plane approaching the beach as it makes its way to nearby Venice Municipal Airport. After Sunday's tragedy, some are wondering if it's safe.
Venice Municipal Airport is a small but busy airport. “There are about 60,000 take off and landings at Venice Municipal Airport every year, and we average three or four incidents per calendar year,” said Airport Administrator Chris Rozansky.
He said of the three or four incidents that happen at the airport every year, the vast majority of incidents are minor with no injuries involved.
Roznaksy tells ABC 7 that Sunday's tragic crash was about a mile south of the Venice Airport. "The pilot and the aircraft were not based out of Venice, and my understanding is that they did not depart from Venice.”
ABC 7 knocked on the door of the pilot, 57-year-old Karl Kokomoor of Englewood, but no one answered. His passenger, David Theen, lives just down the street and owns the hanger where the 1972 Piper Cherokee Archer is kept.
Theen's neighbor Dean Warfell saw the pair Sunday just before they took off from Buchan Airport in Englewood. “I was relaxing on my recliner and I noticed that the Archer was out and the prop running and I noticed my neighbor Dave got in and they took off.”
Kokomoor apparently realized he was in trouble near the Venice airport and sent a distress call over a uni-com radio frequency used by small aircraft pilots. “Somebody here heard that aircraft make a distress call yesterday over that frequency and they notified 911,” said Rozansky.
He said small aircraft pilots have to maintain strict maintenance records on the aircraft. “They have to preform at least 100 hour maintenance inspections. If the aircraft hasn’t been flown a 100 hours they have to perform an annual maintenance inspection.”
He says typically every pilot goes through a checklist and inspects their aircraft before every flight.
While there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the fatal accident on Sunday, until the NTSB publishes their findings, all we are left with is speculation.