Report says pilot killed in small plane crash in Plano came from Arizona to visit family

New details have emerged in the crash of a small plane in Plano that killed the pilot in November, according to an aviation investigation preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Elzie McDonald, from Arizona, died Nov. 21, 2023 in Plano after a small plane he was flying crashed near a strip mall located at 6509 West Park Blvd. No one else was on board, and no other injuries were reported on the ground.

The plane did not land on or collide with any other vehicles when it crashed, but an unoccupied vehicle nearby caught fire as a result of the crash, according to Plano police. Some storefronts were also damaged, according to the NTSB.

Sources initially said the plane took off from a single-runway airport, Air Park-Dallas Airport, shortly before crashing. The airport is less than half a mile away from the site of the crash.

The small plane, a Mooney M20, was being operated as a personal flight per Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, according to the preliminary report. McDonald was traveling from Eagle Roost Airpark in Aguila, Arizona, to Plano to visit family and friends, the report says.

Multiple witnesses reported seeing the plane attempt to land on a runway at Air Park-Dallas and then performed a go-around, according to the report. While performing the go-around, witnesses also reported seeing the airplane’s left wing dip perpendicular to the ground and started descending.

Several surveillance cameras also captured the landing, go-around, climb, wing dip, and descent toward terrain, the report says.

The plane hit the shopping center, just a quarter of a mile west of the departure end of the runaway. A fire ensued as a result of the crash and spread to an unoccupied vehicle. The airplane was destroyed by fire, the report confirms.

The engine separated from the fuselage, the main section of the aircraft, and the engine and propeller were embedded about 2 feet into the ground just north of the wreckage. Both wings remained attached to the aircraft and exhibited “leading edge accordion crush damage consistent with a nose low impact,” the report says.

The plane was recovered and moved to a secure facility for further examination.

Investigators are to also look into weather conditions and the pilot’s flight history, an NTSB official said the day of the crash. It’s not clear if any flight recorders were on board as they aren’t required for that type of plane.

“Our main goal is just to find the facts, try to figure out what happened and prevent future accidents like this from happening,” the NTSB official said.

The FAA and the National Safety Transportation Safety Board will jointly handle the investigation into the cause of the crash.