• Pilot dies after crashing home-built aircraft into Methuen condo building

    Updated:

    METHUEN, Mass. - The pilot of a small plane was killed when the plane crashed into a building in Methuen Tuesday afternoon.

    The tail of the plane could be seen sticking out of the roof shortly after it reportedly crashed around 1:30 p.m. Witnesses told FOX25 the plane seemed to “nose-dive” straight down into the building. Other witnesses said the plane was on fire when it went down.

    Alan Lavender was later identified as the pilot.

    According to the FAA, Lavender was flying an aircraft he built himself and had been a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association since 2012. The FAA classifies his type of plane as an "amateur build aircraft," and says those who fly them must have the same type of training as any other pilot. 

    According to the website for the company Sonex, Lavender spent almost four years constructing his aircraft and took his first flight in it in May of last year. Sonex provides kits for home-built aircraft and published pictures of Lavender with his plane last June.

    Alan Lavender with his plane. Source: Sonexaircraft.com
    Alan Lavender with his plane. Source: Sonexaircraft.com
    Source: Sonexaircraft.com

    Methuen Mayor Stephen Zanni said no one in the building was injured when the plane crashed. The Mayor also told FOX25 firefighters could see smoke coming from the hole in the building, but flames were not visible from the outside.

    "Everything is under control here, but it’s a very unfortunate situation,” Mayor Zanni said as crews worked the scene.

    The Federal Aviation Administration said the plane had been on its "one-mile final approach" to the Lawrence Municipal Airport when it crashed just across the river at the apartment complex.

    Alan Lavender with his plane. Source: Sonexaircraft.com
    Alan Lavender with his plane. Source: Sonexaircraft.com
    Source: Sonexaircraft.com

    The FAA will investigate and the NTSB will determine the probable cause for the accident.

    According to Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday, Lavender was once a mayor and a city councilor. He leaves behind a wife and adult children. 

    There are 12 units in the building that are impacted. The Red Cross says they've assisted 16 individuals.

    The company has a hotline setup for people who live in the building at 1-800-639-7309. 

    Here is a news conference update from the mayor and fire officials.

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