Friend: Pilot killed in New Bedford plane crash would ‘never do aerobatics’

SE Mass

Photo: Shad Samagaio

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — A preliminary report from the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) reveals the plane involved in a deadly crash in New Bedford had received its annual inspection four months prior.

Paul Vidal, 74, of Westport, died after he crashed his Cessna 150 into a New Bedford cemetery earlier this month.

The preliminary report does not list a cause for the crash, however, it does suggest the plane was in proper working order when it crashed.

Vidal was the only person on board the plane when it crashed. He has been a licensed pilot since 2001, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The NTSB previously reported Vidal was “cheerful and happy” prior to taking off from New Bedford Regional Airport. He also spent 15-20 minutes conducting a preflight inspection.

One witness who had parked near the cemetery said he heard a sound “like a motor revving up high” and when he looked up, he saw the airplane “swoop down like it was going to land,” climb very high and then “pivot on its left-wing,” before nosediving into the cemetery, according to the preliminary report. He believed Vidal was “doing tricks” with his airplane.

According to the preliminary report, the president of the airport described Vidal as a “conservative pilot” who wouldn’t fly recklessly and would always call before entering the airspace.

A friend also described Vidal as “a very safe pilot” and said he would “never be doing aerobatics.” The friend said they often flew towards Newport and then continued along the shoreline towards West Island in Fairhaven, where Vidal would contact air traffic control.

Airplane maintenance logbooks revealed the plane had been last inspected on June 7. Vidal’s most recent flight review was conducted on Aug. 18.

The NTSB is currently working to retrieve data from the airplane’s flight data recording system. The final crash report is expected to be completed within 18 to 24 months.

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