PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – The Broward Sheriff’s Office on Monday released the identities of the two pilots who were killed last week in a plane crash in Pembroke Park.
The victims were identified as Nissan Giat, 53, of Miramar, and Joaquin Ricalde, 56, of Miami.
According to authorities, the 1969 twin-engine Aero Commander 500S with the two pilots on board had taken off in Pompano Beach Friday morning and was heading to Opa-locka. It was only in the air for nine minutes before it crashed around 9 a.m. at 1781 S. Park Road in Pembroke Park.
The plane struck the side of a storage building before crashing to the ground.
The force of the collision into the building’s fifth floor was so great that the engine separated from the plane.
“I was walking out of the storage when I heard an explosion,” Armando Perez told reporters at the scene in Spanish. “I came out and saw the plane and two bodies. Had I gone out a minute earlier, the plane would’ve fallen on me.”
According to the Federal Aviation Administration registry, the plane is registered to Conquest Air, Inc. out of Miami Lakes.
Conquest Air is a cargo company that flies daily trips from Miami to the Bahamas — doing most of their flying out of Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport — but they say this plane was not part of their cargo operation and is not used for any commercial purposes.
“Our concern is with the pilots and their families,” a statement issued by Conquest Air read in part. “We will continue to work with the relevant authorities to obtain more information regarding this situation.”
FAA spokesman Rick Breitenfeldt said the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash, with the NTSB taking the lead in the investigation.