Problems previously reported with plane involved in fatal Chico’s crash
Many pilots reported problems with the plane that slammed into the Chico’s day care last June weeks before it went down.
On at least two separate occasions, pilots with the Fort Myers Flying Club reported the small Piper Archer Two’s engine has lost power while in the air. The plane was brought to a mechanic after each incident, and allowed to fly again.
Anthony Greco Jr. was the pilot in that fatal crash last June, and told investigators he followed his normal routine.
Greco and his passenger, 37-year-old Marc Scott, did a full pre-flight inspection of the Piper Archer Two plane before taking off. Greco says the plane got the “all clear” to fly.
Greco and Scott even cleaned out the fuel tanks twice prior to taking off.
After a few minutes of taking off, Greco told investigators, “it felt like a slight loss of full power.”
Greco believed the engine didn’t have enough power to sustain the flight, as the plane’s vertical climb hit zero.
Greco says he told Scott, “this is not looking good, let’s do Metro (Parkway).”
That’s when Greco turned the plane toward Metro Parkway to make an emergency landing, but that’s when the wing hit a tree, sending it spiraling out of control into the Chico’s building.
“This was my last recollection of the flight,” Greco said in the National Transportation Safety Board report.
According to the report, the next thing Greco remembers is crawling on the green grass with a strong smell of fuel.
“I have no recollection of getting out of the plane,” Greco said.
Greco says he then walked around the wreckage, and the building, searching for Scott, but couldn’t find anyone.
The next thing to happen was the plane went up in flames.
A security guard arrived on scene first, and told Greco he called 911.
Greco believes he was thrown from the wreckage before, or even during, impact, which could have saved his life.
After the crash, the NTSB spoke to a pilot who flew the same Piper Archer Two Plane at least 7 or 8 times before the crash.
The pilot told investigators he never had an issue with the plane, until just about a month before the fatal crash.
The pilot also states that the engine lost power just after take off.
“It sounded like the engine was being choked off from air or fuel,” at about 100 feet off the ground, the pilot said.
The plane was checked by maintenance workers at Switlik Aviation. After many tests and cleanings, the maintenance crew found no other problems.
But, about a week later, the engine shut off on a different pilot.
This pilot says he was flying at about 8,000 feet when the engine turned off. So he started maneuvering his way back toward a nearby airport, when the engine turned back on at 3,000 feet.
This pilot then took the plane to the mechanics, who looked at fuel samples and checked for any obstructions, but the workers said it performed just fine during the test runs.
The NTSb report says a mechanical failure was at fault for the crash, but it is still not clear why the engine malfunctioned.