WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (WFLA) — A pilot from Elizabethton remains hospitalized in critical condition after a seaplane crashed into an orange grove in Florida on Wednesday.
John “Jack” Hamilton, 77, of Elizabethton, was visiting the Orlando area and requested an instructor flight at the Jack Brown Seaplane Base as a “refresher course,” according to a release from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
Hamilton and the flight instructor — identified as 22-year-old Landen MacFarland, of Stuart, Florida — were in a two-seater seaplane when attempting to land on Lake Smart.
Shortly after the 1946 Yellow Piper J3C-65’s pontoons landed on the lake, deputies said one of the wings dipped down into the water, causing the plane to “catapult upward” about 50 feet. It then crashed nose-first into an orange grove about 40 yards away from the lake.
Hamilton and MacFarland were taken to a nearby hospital to be treated for serious injuries. A public information officer with the sheriff’s office said Thursday morning both men are listed in critical condition.
No one else was injured in the crash.
The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board continue to investigate the incident. The seaplane was still at the scene in the orange grove Thursday morning.