TAMPA, Fla. - The National Transportation Safety Board says the wrong fuel was pumped into the plane of a well-known Tampa plastic surgeon before it crashed last weekend. The impact killed Dr. Daniel Greenwald.
The preliminary report says Greenwald flew to Indiana Saturday, Oct. 5 to train another pilot. It goes on to say an employee at Kokomo Municipal Airport asked Greenwald if he wanted the prop plane filled with jet fuel "because the airplane looked like a jet airplane."
The report says the 59-year-old said "yes."
The worker told investigators he parked the Jet A fuel truck in front of the aircraft and asked Greenwald a second time if he wanted jet fuel. After Greenwald reportedly confirmed, more than 160 gallons were pumped into the plane.
But the piston-powered Piper Aerostar being flown by the experienced pilot does not take jet fuel.
According to the NTSB, the employee "was able to orientate the different shaped nozzle" on the jet fuel truck to refuel the tanks, instead of using the 100 low-lead fuel that comes through a nozzle that fits.
The report says Greenwald took off around 4:30 p.m. without any issues but less than four miles away, it plunged into a field. The plane was destroyed; Greenwald was the only person on board.
"It's heartbreaking, it's very heartbreaking, It's a loss," said former patient Diane Reese.
After the crash, investigators report finding a clear liquid that appeared to be jet fuel inside the tank and fuel lines of both engines, and "several of the engine spark plugs exhibited damage consistent with detonation."
Officials say Greenwald may have experienced an accelerated engine stall in the air.
"He didn't have a selfish bone in his body," Greenwald's friend, Jim Webb said. "His heart was as big as the universe. I mean, he had such compassion for people."
Greenwald had a love of flying, but this wasn't his first plane crash. In 2008, he and a passenger walked away after the aerobatics plane they were in crashed near Davis Islands.
The NTSB investigation into the deadly crash is not over yet. Hopefully, we will learn more about exactly what happened when the final report is issued