St. Pete pilot, 79, dies in crash at Albert Whitted Airport
A 79-year-old pilot who was taking some refresher flying training died Wednesday as he crashed while trying to take off in his single-engine plane, St. Petersburg police said. The crash left his instructor hospitalized James Finnegan, 79, 219 Rialto Way N.E., St. Petersburg, was killed in the crash. Finnegan owned the plane and was the pilot at the time of the crash, police said. Finnegan had previous flight experience, but he had not flown for several years and was taking refresher training from his passenger, James Murphy, at the time of the crash, police said. Murphy, 37, 10800 Brighton Bay Blvd., No. 1708, St. Petersburg, is hospitalized.Rescue crews had to remove the men from the wreckage, and they were taken to Bayfront Medical Center. The two-seat plane went down just before 2 p.m. as it was taking off, said St. Petersburg Police spokesman Mike Puetz said. The plane got about 50 to 100 feet off the ground when the engine sputtered and the aircraft nosedived to the ground, he said. The plane is a Luscombe, Model 8A, that was built in 1947. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating. Stay with TBO.com for updates.