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Jan 13, 2022

Plane crash in Winter Haven near Lake Smart

Media Contact: Alicia Manautou, PIO

At approximately 2:30 pm on Wednesday, January 12, 2022, a 2-seater Seaplane (1946 Yellow Piper J3C-65 SN: 16133, N88509) was attempting to land on Lake Smart. 

Shortly after the pontoons landed on the lake, one of the wings dipped into the water causing the plane to catapult upward approximately 50 feet before crashing nose first into an orange grove about 40 yards from Lake Smart. The PCSO Emergency Communications Center received several 911 calls about the crash, and Winter Haven Police, Winter Haven Fire, and PCSO deputies immediately responded to the area.

There were two adults on board the plane at the time of the crash: 77-year-old John “Jack” Hamilton of Elizabethton, TN, a licensed pilot, and 22-year-old Landen MacFarland of Stuart, a flight instructor. Mr. Hamilton was visiting the Orlando area from Tennessee. He arrived at the Jack Brown Seaplane Base in Winter Haven and requested to fly with an instructor for a refresher course. 

Both pilots were transported to a local hospital where they are being treated for serious injuries. Both men are listed in critical condition.

No one on the ground was injured.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are investigating the plane crash. Please direct any additional inquiries about the crash to these agencies.