Pilot had engine issues before fatal plane crash near Love Field, report shows

Plane crashed on Sept. 6

LADY LAKE, Fla. – A report from the National Transportation Safety Board showed a pilot had engine issues before a fatal plane crash near Love Field in Lake County.

The pilot was killed in the crash around 1:25 p.m. on Sept. 6. 

The Vans RV-12 took off from runway 27 at the Love Field Airport.

One person was onboard, officials said. Officials later identified the pilot as 83-year-old William Joseph Phaneuf, of Weirdsdale. 

The report from the NTSB showed the pilot was unable to start his airplane's engine before the flight.

Three other pilots told him he had likely flooded his engine and the group went to his hangar to assist him, according to the report.

Investigators said they removed the upper cowling and top spark plugs, from each cylinder.

Two of the spark plugs were wet, and a mechanic said the plugs were insufficiently torqued.

The report showed after cleaning the spark plugs the engine started on the first attempt.

The mechanic asked the pilot to perform an ignition check and a full static rpm check and the engine responded appropriately, according to the report. 

The pilot restarted the engine again and it started normally.

One of the witnesses said the engine sounded good as the airplane departed from runway 27, according to the report.