The FAA is investigating a Friday plane crash at Lake Pleasant where officials say a Scottsdale pilot was flying as little as 10 feet above the water and talking on a cell phone.
The crash occurred around 8 p.m. Friday night. FAA Spokesman Ian Gregor would not identify the pilot and said investigators are assuming that two people were on the plane. He also said no bodies or injured people have been found.
Maricopa County Sheriffs Office divers are on the scene, he said. The plane is in about 100 feet of water.
Gregor relayed this account of the crash, which he said came from the pilot’s friend who was on a boat on Lake Pleasant at the time of the crash: “Apparently the pilot was flying as low as 10 feet over the lake and talking on a cell phone to a friend who was on a boat on the lake,” Gregor said. “We understand that the pilot asked a friend to shine a flashlight over the sky so the pilot could locate the boat. When the friend in the boat looked up, the plane crashed right in front of him.”
No one on the boat was injured.
Gary Lewin, president of Southwest Flight Center in Scottsdale, rented the single engine, four-passenger plane to a man who he said he would not identify because of a company policy. Lewin confirmed that the pilot was a Scottsdale resident who was “a well-versed and very accomplished pilot” with more than 10,000 hours of flight time.
Gregor confirmed that the unidentified pilot has a air transportation pilot rating – the highest rating available.
The plane was worth $300,000 and fairly new, Lewin said.
“The FAA told me he was buzzing boaters on the lake and rocking the wings back and forth in a motion to signal to a boat,” Lewin said. “The wing hit the water and the aircraft cartwhelled.”
Lewin called the pilots actions “a nonstandard procedure.”
“All I did was rent him the aircraft,” Lewin said. “What happened next was in his hands.”
Gregor said the National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA continue to investigate the crash.