Roy Halladay was flying his tiny sport plane low over the Gulf of Mexico shortly before it slammed into the water and killed the retired star pitcher, witnesses told federal investigators.
National Transportation Safety Board Investigator Noreen Price said Wednesday that Halladay’s ICON A5 experienced a “high-energy impact” with the water. She said both flight data recorders were recovered and the plane did not have a voice recorder.
The website TMZ posted a video on Wednesday taken by a boater that shows Halladay’s plane, from a distance, descending toward the water’s surface, rising slightly, then crashing into the Gulf. The person who took the video was not named.
TMZ said an unnamed witness told the site Halladay had been “dramatically increasing and decreasing in elevation.” Another said he was “flying like that all week. Aggressively.”
Price said Halladay had been a licensed pilot since 2013 and logged about 700 hours of flight time before Tuesday’s crash near Tampa. She said a preliminary report on the cause likely will be issued in seven to 10 days.
Price said it was too early to say whether Halladay’s crash was related to two earlier crashes this year of A5s, one of them that killed both the plane’s chief designer and test pilot
The 40-year-old former Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher had been the proud owner for less than a month of his ICON A5, and was among the first to fly the model.
Among Halladay’s tweets about the plane, he wrote: “keep telling my dad flying the Icon A5 low over the water is like flying a fighter jet!”
The son of a corporate pilot, Halladay had been forbidden to take up aviation until the two-time Cy Young Award winner retired from baseball after the 2013 season.
Combined news services