Pilot in deadly plane crash tried to return to Wellington airport

WELLINGTON, FL (WFLX) - A fatal plane crash in Wellington last week may be traced to a sputtering engine, according to a preliminary report issued by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The report says, just before 1 p.m. on Feb. 17, veteran pilot Leonard W. McGarity, 58, took off from the Wellington Aero Club in his experimental, amateur-built plane.

Witnesses told investigators the engine backfired and began to sputter.

The plane then made a steep 180-degree left turn back toward the airport and went nose down into a nearby pond, according to the preliminary report.

The NTSB says witnesses attempted to help the pilot and called 911.

McGarity died at the scene of the crash.

NTSB investigators say there were no signs of mechanical problems on the plane engine.

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