Federal Investigators on Scene at Florida Crash Site

Accident claimed the life of an ERAU student.

The accident aircraft, similar to the one shown here, never climbed higher than 200 feet after takeoff.Brian Lockett, Air-and-Space.com

Investigators are sifting through the mangled wreckage of a Cessna 140 that crashed about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night shortly after takeoff from a private airport in southeast Florida. The airport, Spruce Creek Fly-In is located in Port Orange just south of Daytona Beach. Witnesses reported the classic metal taildragger never climbed more than 200 feet into the air before entering a left turn and hitting some trees before striking the ground in an empty lot. The aircraft barely missed striking homes close to the runway of the popular fly-in community.

The 1955 model Cessna 140, powered by an 85 hp engine, was piloted by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University graduate Chase Zinn who was critically injured in the crash and remains hospitalized. An ERAU statement said Zinn was also a flight instructor. A current ERAU student, Nandish Patel died in the accident. The university said the flight was not related to any ERAU activities.

Spruce Creek Airport includes a single runway 3,998 feet long by 176 feet wide. A local newspaper reported that Tuesday’s accident represented the fifth death involving an aircraft leaving or approaching Spruce Creek Airport.