The pilot of a small single-engine plane that went down in Paynes Prairie on Tuesday afternoon was found dead at the scene.
According to an Alachua County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) release, Micanopy residents called the Combined Communications Center (CCC) around 2 p.m. about a plane losing altitude and hearing a loud boom sound.
CCC also received calls from the Gainesville Regional Airport and Jacksonville Airport towers that they lost radar contact with a plane on the radar screen over Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park.
ACSO deputies and Alachua County Fire Rescue (ACFR) personnel responded to the area and established a command post. Multiple units and specialty teams conducted a grid search by ground. Air resources were unable to deploy because of poor visibility due to cloudy, rainy weather.
The plane’s wreckage was discovered around 5:15 p.m. in a wooded area within Paynes Prairie. The lone individual on board was dead on scene and the Medical Examiner’s Office will assist in identifying the pilot.
The pilot was identified as Adrien James Valentine, 21, of Melrose.
After ACSO deputies secured the scene overnight, the investigation was turned over to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on Wednesday morning.
Editor’s note: This story was updated with the name of the pilot.