Pilot error may have caused plane crash in Clearwater
Published: Monday, January 14, 2008 at 8:41 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 14, 2008 at 8:41 a.m.
CLEARWATER, Fla. — A pilot’s confusion over which runway to land on
may have played a role in a small plane crash that killed three people,
Federal investigators said Sunday that it likely will take six to eight
months of investigation to figure out why the Cessna Skyhawk 172 crashed
into Old Tampa Bay a day earlier, 100 yards short of a runway at the St.
Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport.
But tower controllers, in initial interviews, said that pilot Joseph
Bellamy was cleared to land on one runway but appeared to be lined up with
another runway on his approach, said Tim Monville, a senior air safety
investigator with the National Transportation and Safety Board based in
Monville said he also interviewed a witness who described a series of
chaotic movements by the plane just before the crash, perhaps trying to
line up with the correct runway.
The witness told Monville that the plane went sharply to the right, then
to the left. It went right again, pointed its nose up, stalled, rolled left
again and plummeted into the shallow waters.
Bellamy, 31, of Pinellas Park, was killed along with his parents, Gordon
Bellamy, 55, and Susan Bellamy, 53, who lived in Palatka.
Investigators were working Monday to remove the plane from the bay. Divers
removed the bodies Saturday.
The plane belonged to the Pinellas Pilots Association, a group created to
help defray the costs of owning or renting a plane.
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