WINTER HAVEN, Florida -- An ultralight plane crash at Winter Haven Municipal Airport has killed two people.
Gary Lawrence was a certified private pilot, according to FAA records, and Susanne Broadbelt had been certified as a sport pilot two months ago.
Authorities say the experimental Airborne Windsport aircraft was performing touch and go maneuvers when it hit the ground, flipped, and slid approximately 168 feet with the cockpit on the ground. Wind gusts of 30-35 mph possibly played a part in the crash.
"We have these wonderful winds that we enjoy here on the ground, but they can wreak havoc on an aircraft if they gust away," said Jamie Brown with the Winter Haven Police Department. "That's what we think happened."
Winter Haven police say Broadbelt, 60, of Zephyrhills died at the scene, while 61-year-old Lawrence of Inverness was taken to Lakeland Regional Medical Center, where he later died from his injuries as well.
A community of current and former pilots lives behind the airport, and many of them are offering support.
"I really wish [their families] strength," said Ineke Visser. "Everybody here is praying for them."
Last month, an ultralight hit power lines near Pilot Country Airport in Pasco County, killing the pilot inside. Hours later, another pilot died in an ultralight crash at Hernando County Airport.
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