Former Major League Baseball pitching great Roy Halladay was flying his private plane in an erratic and risky fashion immediately before he crashed the ICON A5 light sport aircraft, a plane that is often called a “sports car with wings,” into shallow waters off the coast of St. Petersburg, Florida, according to a report Wednesday by TMZ Sports. The site obtained footage shot by boaters in the area where Halladay was piloting the small plane, and the videos show the aircraft rising to an altitude of about 100 feet and then dipping dangerously close to the water’s surface.
That footage may be viewed below, on this page. But be warned; the footage is disturbing and also contains a considerable amount of profane language apparently spoken by the boater recording the video.
According to the TMZ Sports report, Halladay “appeared to be hot doggin’ it in his plane in the moments before his crash by making extreme and unusual changes in altitude.” The report says that witnesses “were so shocked by the flying pattern, they pulled out their cell phones to capture the bizarre dips and rises.”
Halladay, a married father of two who retired from baseball in 2013 due to a chronic back injury, was 40 years old. He reportedly earned almost $150 million in salary over his 16-year Major League career, and following his retirement, he studied to obtain a pilot’s license, which he was granted in 2016.
You may view the video footage of Halladay flying his plane immediately before the fatal crash, including footage from the aftermath of the crash, below. But again, readers should be warned that the footage may be upsetting and contains repeated profanity.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the Halladay crash, and no conclusions or information about the investigation’s finding have been released as of Wednesday afternoon. But witnesses said that they had seen Halladay’s plane flying the same risky pattern “all week.”
According to the plane’s manufacturer the small aircraft came equipped with a “Complete Aircraft Parachute” safety device, which the company’s website claims “has more than 300 documented lives saved, some at altitudes as low as a few hundred feet. So if you encounter the unexpected, we’ve got you covered. Literally.”
Why Halladay did not deploy the parachute safety system is not clear, though witnesses reported seeing his plane dip repeatedly as low as five feet from the surface of the Gulf of Mexico water, which was likely too low to release the parachute in time to stop a crash.
Though the ICON A5 is said to be designed for new and inexperienced pilots such as Halladay, the plane’s own chief designer perished flying an ICON A5 on May 8 of this year, according to a report in The New York Daily News.
The designer, 55-year-old John Karkow, was flying the small plane in mountainous terrain surrounding Lake Berryessa in northern California. According to NTSB findings, Karkow was flying too low when he entered a canyon and was unable to pull the plane to an altitude that would allow him to clear the mountain in his path. The plane crashed into the mountainside killing not only Karkow but also his passenger, Cagri Sever, director of engineering for ICON.
According to a CNN report, the plane flown by Halladay had received certification from the Federal Aviation Administration only on Monday, one day before the fatal crash.
[Featured Image by Matt Rourke/AP Images]