87-year-old pilot dies in small plane that crashed, caught fire near Plano strip mall

The National Transportation Safety Board has started its investigation into the fatal crash of a small plane near a Plano strip mall Tuesday, officials said.

A single-engine Mooney M20 crashed shortly before 6 p.m. outside of Mama’s Daughter’s Diner, in a strip mall located at 6509 West Park Blvd. The pilot died in the crash, Plano Fire-Rescue said. No one else was on board at the time and no injuries were reported on the ground.

The Texas Department of Public Safety identified the pilot as 87-year-old Elzie McDonald, from Arizona, Plano police announced in a social media post Wednesday. He was just days away from turning 88, according to the post.

Investigators will gather as much evidence as they can at the scene of the crash, a NTSB official said at a Wednesday morning press conference. They plan to look at the airframe Wednesday.

The investigators will also look into weather conditions and the pilot’s flight history, the official said. 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 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 official.

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Mama’s Daughter’s Diner’s Plano location will be closed through Friday, employees posted on social media. The crash was “an overwhelming event,” they said, and their hearts go out to the pilot’s family.

“It is a miracle that no one was hurt on the ground at the dinner hour,” the post said.

The plane took off from a single-runway airport, Air Park-Dallas Airport, shortly before crashing, sources told Star-Telegram media partner, WFAA-TV. The airport is less than half a mile away from the site of the crash.

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

The crash comes after a small plane crashed into a car in McKinney on Nov. 11 after attempting to make an emergency landing. The pilot was trying to make an emergency landing at Aero County Airport in McKinney, but was unable to stop the plane at the end of the runway.

The plane went through a fence and onto eastbound Virginia Parkway, where it crashed into a car driving by.

One person was taken to a hospital to be treated for minor injuries.