Pilot killed after plane crashes into Lake Osborne

By Peter Schaller - email
Posted by Rachel Leigh - email

LANTANA, FL (WFLX) - His plane crashed Saturday just before noon right after taking off from the Lantana airport. Fifty-eight-year-old Michael Cupailoe from Boynton Beach was the owner and pilot of the homemade plane.

Those that knew him best call him the safest pilot in aviation, but all his skill couldn't save him from crashing just minutes after taking off at the Lantana Airport into Lake Osborne.

Friends tell us the grandfather and loving husband lived a full life before this tragedy. He was well-known and well-liked in the local aviation community. Other local pilots tell us the 58-year old had been flying this plane for five years. In fact, he was so confident in it's safety, he took his wife and grand kids up for trips.

People, who saw him go down, jumped into Lake Osborne to try and save him, but doing it was too late.
His neighbor, Bob Panucci, said, "I give them my condolences. Of course, if they need anything, they just have to walk across the street, knock on my door, and I'll help them."

Witnesses say the plane was sputtering and backfiring during takeoff but Michael managed to get it in the air anyway; then, he lost control.

Witnesses say it looked like he was trying to turn around to head back to the airport in what appears to be an attempt to save lives on the ground. Officials believe he died instantly when he hit the water.

We're hearing from the FAA the wreckage from the crash is at the Lantana Airport in one of the hangers, and when they're finished, it's getting turned over to the NTSB.