Crews remove plane from Titusville business

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TITUSVILLE, Fla. - Crews spent Friday removing the single-engine plane that crashed through the roof of a Titusville auto body shop on Thursday.

Crews with a large crane and Federal Aviation Administration investigators both arrived at the scene on Garden Street Friday morning.

A number of people gathered to watch the slow process of pulling the plane from the building. Crews weren't sure if the crane, with a lift capacity of 40 tons, would be able to remove the plane in one piece

"We had to lift it up and down to shake the materials loose (that landed) on top of the plane itself when it flew into the building," said Bruce Dean with Beyel Brothers.

Authorities said no one suffered major injuries when the plane crashed into American Paint & Body Collision Center around noon Thursday.

The pilot, Jim McMillan, and a passenger aboard the 1982 Beechcraft C24R, suffered only minor injuries, according to authorities.

Officials said people were working in the building at the time of the crash, but no one inside was injured.

"I'm working in the store and we hear the big boom, and then we came out and saw it," said nearby business owner Gita Patel.

Business owner Joe Fernandez said he was grateful there were not serious injuries in the incident.

"I'm fine. I'm glad everyone's safe," said Fernandez.

McMillan told investigators he was experiencing engine trouble aboard his single-engine aircraft when he tried to divert to Arthur Dunn Airpark.

His wife told Channel 9's Melonie Holt that she liked to think of it as a controlled emergency landing.

The pilot's daughter, Beth Satterlee, talked with Channel 9 later Thursday.

"My dad is great. He's an excellent pilot," said Satterlee. "He has many years (of) experience flying, many years working on airplanes. This is a miracle. He's great."

An employee with American Paint & Body Collision Center described the frightening scene.

“I didn’t know what was going on. I’ve never heard such an explosion before,” said employee Nick Sargenti.

“They were standing up, trying to get out of the plane. They were lucky,” said Fernandez.

According to FAA records, McMillan has had a commercial pilot certificate for the past seven years. He has single-engine, multi-engine and instrument ratings, as well as an aircraft mechanic certificate.

He told the first emergency crews on scene he was heading to Space Coast Regional Airport.

The plane was registered to Southeast Aviation Services, a company in Brevard County. McMillan is vice president of that company.

McMillan and his passenger, Dave Jabbari are recovering from their injuries. Fernandez said he can concentrate on reopening his business.