An Alabama pilot who was flying to Florida to visit his son for Christmas was killed when his plane crashed about 50 miles west of Gainesville, Florida, Wednesday, Dec. 20.
William “Bill” Greenhaw, 78, departed from Alabama’s Guntersville Municipal Airport around 2:00 Wednesday afternoon in a Beechcraft BE-35. He was bound for Orlando Melbourne International Airport to see his son, who lives in Melbourne, Florida.
Bob Martin, the manager of Guntersville Municipal Airport, where Mr. Greenhaw worked, told Huntsville, Alabama’s WHNT Channel 19 that Mr. Greenhaw had made the trip many times before. “He left here two o’clock time frame. Sometime after five he sent a text message to his son down in Melbourne that he was having some headwinds, and he would be late. Last transmission,” Mr. Martin said.
“A concerned family member reported that the (plane) did not arrive,” Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen told AL.com. “The pilot was the only person on board. The pilot did not file a flight plan, so air traffic control did not provide service for the flight.”
Mr. Martin told AL.com that authorities picked up a signal from the emergency landing transmitters on Mr. Greenhaw’s plane late Thursday, but a search didn’t commence until Friday morning due to bad weather in the area. The aircraft was spotted just north of Cross City and a recovery team was sent to recover Mr. Greenhaw’s body.
Mr. Greenhaw was an experienced pilot and worked for several years as the Guntersville airport’s aircraft and power plant mechanic handling annual inspections and other maintenance. He was also a mainstay at the Homer B. Wilson Jr. Vintage (aviation) Museum at Guntersville Municipal Airport, where he was thoroughly knowledgeable about all the museum’s aircraft exhibits.
The cause of the plane crash remains under investigation.