The Beechcraft Baron had just taken off from Ocala International Airport for a maintenance flight before it “crash landed” on a six-lane road, hitting power lines and the SUV, authorities told ABC News.
According to air traffic control audio, around 11:30 a.m. local time, the pilot radioed to the tower that they “need[ed] to return to the field.”
About 30 seconds later, the air traffic controller yelled to the pilot: “Exit the aircraft if you can, exit the aircraft if you can!”
When firefighters arrived, the plane was “fully engulfed in flames,” Ocala Fire and Rescue Public Information Officer Ashley Lopez said. The pilot and passenger were pronounced dead at the scene.
The driver of the car that the plane crashed into was an elderly man, authorities said.
“Initially, responders thought that he had sustained life-threatening injuries,” said Ocala Police Department spokesperson Corie Byrd. The man in the car, however, last was listed in stable condition as of late Thursday.
Ocala Airport officials told Byrd the intended flight path was to go westbound, but that “they could have drifted farther East than intended.” According to Byrd, there was no mayday call.
The debris field stretched across both north and southbound lanes of the usually busy road, forcing it to close for about seven hours.
Both the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the cause of the crash. As with every NTSB aircraft investigation, a preliminary report will be released within two weeks.
This is the third crash in three days where a small plane struck a vehicle or a home.
On Tuesday, a pilot was killed in New Jersey when he crashed his Cessna 414 into a home, igniting a fire.