Update 9:20 p.m.: The Pasco Sheriff's Office has positively identified the pilot who died in the plane crash as 59-year-old Harold Cameron MacManus of Tennessee.
MacManus was the brother of Dr. Susan MacManus, a WFLA News Channel 8 political analyst and University of South Florida professor, according to wfla.com.
Pasco County Sheriff’s deputies have found the wreckage of a plane that crashed last night, Feb. 24, off Ehren Cutoff Road in the Cypress Creek Preserve wellfield area. The crash scene is about two miles into the preserve.
The sheriff’s office was told earlier today the plane possibly few out of Tampa Executive Airport and went down sometime in the night. A relative of the pilot contacted authorities after they hadn't heard from him after takeoff. The male pilot was the only person on board the plane and was killed in the crash, according to Pasco County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Melanie Snow. The pilot was a resident of Tennessee and was flying back to Tennessee when the plane went down. She would only say that the plane was a "small aircraft" and that the pilot's identity was not being released because next of kin had not been notified.
Snow said deputies received a phone call at 2:30 a.m. Monday, Feb. 25 when someone said they heard a loud noise and and another caller at 9 a.m. reported hearing something they thought may have been a plane crash. Searches in the area of those two calls did not turn up any evidence of a crash.
Later in the day, a local media helicopter was in the area and spotted the wreckage. As of Monday evening, the scene was still active and wreckage is on fire and spread across a wide area, Snow said.
At 4:15 p.m. today, Feb. 25, the sheriff's office issued a media release saying a plane had been found in the well fields off Ehren Cutoff.
"The Pasco Sheriff's Office is assisting Fire Rescue and our units on scene confirm a debris field has been located," Snow wrote in the media release. "The scene is still active and part of the wreckage is on fire."
The investigation will be turned over to the National Transportation and Safety Board and Federal Aviation Authority.
Stay with Land O’ Lakes Patch for updates as they become available.
Editor Keli Sipperley contributed to this report.