Swampland Plane Crash Claims Four Gator Fans

Sad news from Florida today, as a small plane that crashed in Florida on Sunday was revealed to have been carrying four people returning home from the Florida Gators football game in Gainesville earlier that day.

Swamp Plane Crash

While - presumably - the crash didn’t have the horror value of happening in front of a crowd at a football game, like what happened in Ohio, it was horrible enough that all four passengers are presumed dead, despite investigators finding only one body so far. Judging by the picture above, that sounds about right.

Per the MIAMI HERALD:

The single-engine plane went down west of U.S. 27 just south of the Broward-Palm Beach County line, according to the Broward Sheriff’s Office, which sent search teams of firefighters and paramedics into the marsh Sunday.

Initial reports indicated that the plane’s pilot was Fort Lauderdale resident Bruce Barber, a longtime aviator who owns and operates Bull Gator Air. Friends of Barber said the UF football fan named his company after the team and would often take his blue and orange plane north for weekend Gator games.

What would not be ideal is if this crash deterred those few small plane operators from doing something like this, though. For that, a quick note on small planes and college football.

My grandfather was a small plane aviator in his spare time way back when, and there was one day that he was tasked with attending a conference at the University of Iowa hospital.  Doctors do this a lot. It just so happens, though, that the conference was scheduled to be concurrent with a football game at Iowa–those who are familiar with the football stadium know it is literally across the street from the UIHC. In other words, traffic was going to be unavoidably snarled.

…Or not really. He just drove to his local airport, climbed into his plane, flew the ~100 miles to Iowa City, then walked the two miles to the hospital; it probably saved him an hour, and the riskiest part of his trip was probably the walk next to busy streets.

All of which is to say: despite the grisly, high-profile nature of small plane crashes, they’re not inherently more dangerous than driving a car. You have to know what you’re doing, of course, and even that didn’t prevent Barber from crashing yesterday. But these are rare occurrences, sufficiently rare that while people in the aviation community will undoubtedly mourn Barber’s passing, they probably won’t stop flying. As for new people getting into the craft, well, that may be in just a little more jeopardy than it was 24 hours ago.