Knox native dies in Florida plane crash

A Poplar Creek native died in a plane crash on Thanksgiving Day while traveling to visit family in Florida.

According to The Daily Herald, 73-year-old Herman ‘Eugene’ Steele, now of Mt. Pleasant, Tn., was identified as the pilot killed in a plane crash on November 23 inside Camp Blanding, Fl. He was the only one in the plane at the time of the accident.

According to the FlightAware tracking data, just before 3 p.m., Steele’s 1968 Mooney M20 Ranger aircraft was traveling at 182 mph at 2,900 feet before dropping to 24 mph at the same altitude. Flight patterns show the plane turning around as it approached Jacksonville and spinning out of control in multiple directions, reports The Daily Herald.

Jacksonville International Airport received a distress call from Steele but were unable to maintain communication. His plane crashed at approximately 3:15 p.m. for unknown reasons.

While the exact cause of the crash remains unknown, weather might have been a factor. Aviation expert Randy Reep told News4JAX, “Any event that occurs in bad weather makes that event more difficult. You can’t fly in reference to the ground and (the pilot) is having to rely on his sensations to maneuver the airplane via instruments. It can be very difficult, which is why the air traffic control system is designed the way it is.”

Reep also told News4J AX that if Steele filed a flight plan, there will be more evidence to collect because he would have been controlled through radio communications with the ground.

This crash remains under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Florida Highway Patrol.

Information for this story was taken from articles by Jay Powell with The Daily Herald in Columbia, Tn. And Erik Avanier with News4JAX in Jacksonville, Fl.