67Y – Ah, we want visual straight in to the runway, 67Y.
MIA – N2467Y, fly heading 110; that’ll be vectors straight in to Executive Runway 8 at Executive for visual approach. … N2467Y proceed heading 110; that’ll take you direct to Exec for a visual approach Runway 8.
67Y– 110, 67Y, visual eight.
MIA – N2467Y [I’ll] keep you at altitude just so you can stay up there. Hopefully if you have another problem you can glide to the airport, but I will keep you at 3,000; advise me if you want to do anything other than that.
67Y – Thank you very much, 67Y.
At this point, the Miami controller gave 67Y a new frequency, so that a Fort Lauderdale approach controller could handle him alone. The pilot came up on the new frequency.
FXE – N67Y, I understand you have heading. Like I say we also have Boca. Boca is about the same distance, so whichever one. You look like 12 o’clock and 25 miles for Executive.
67Y – We’re getting more smoke in the cockpit; we’re thinking we might have to land on runway … ah, Highway 27 here.
FXE – OK, do you have 27? … You said you wanna try and land on Highway 27, sir?
67Y – Yes, yes
FXE – All right 67Y, we have your … can I get the souls on board and fuel?
FXE – 67Y, before, can you give me the souls on board, please?
FXE – N2467Y, can you give me souls on board?
67Y– We’re on fire! We’re on fire!
A Florida wildlife conservation officer saw the Saratoga in a steep left bank, diving, trailing black smoke, with flames pouring from the cowling. It crashed at high speed into six feet of water, killing all aboard.
At the time of the mayday call, the Saratoga was about four miles west of Highway 27 — a wide, straight road free of railings and power lines — and flying exactly parallel to it. It was 22 nm from both Clewiston and Pahokee and about 16 nm from Belle Glade State. Fort Lauderdale Executive, which the controller initially told the pilot was the nearest airport, was 34 nm distant. At 1747, when the controller told the pilot that Exec was 24 miles away, it was actually still more than 30 miles away.
The airplane was pulverized, but investigators were able to locate the source of the fire at the number five cylinder — right rear on a Lycoming — and through electron microscopy to identify a fatigue fracture on a fuel line just above that cylinder’s injector. The breaking of the fuel supply line was the primary probable cause. “Also causal,” the report continues, “was the pilot’s failure to immediately secure the engine/perform a forced landing after discovery of the fire, which resulted in the pilot’s loss of control of the airplane.”