An airplane crash in a Boynton Beach-area wildlife refuge in 2011 that killed two people, including the 34-year-old son of Bushnell City Manager Vince Ruano, was probably caused because the pilot was trying to perform an aerobatic maneuver, according to a recently released report.
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board say cousins Ryan Christopher Ruano and Sean Reynolds McLeod, 23, both from Bushnell, were returning from an air show in Stuart and were flying in formation with a pair of aerobatic airplanes when the accident occurred. The cousins were en route to Willis Gliderport in Boynton Beach and both died in the crash.
The investigative report stated that flight data from the airplane indicated one of the pilots attempted to roll the aircraft at a low altitude, perhaps as low as 29 feet, when it struck the ground. That plane — a single-engine Cirrus SR22 that was not designed for aerobatics — was rented three days before the crash by Ryan Ruano from Air Orlando Aviation Flight School at Orlando Executive Airport, where he had just started working.
Although NTSB investigators said they can’t be sure who was piloting the plane, Ryan Ruano had been flying since the age of 18 and had logged more than 6,000 flight hours, while McLeod was studying for his pilot’s license at the same flight school, the Daily Commercial reported previously.
The plane crashed into about 15 feet of mud at the refuge and investigators had to use several air boats and a Sikorsky 58 helicopter to access the wreckage.
In addition to being able to fly single-engine, twin-engine and corporate planes, Ryan Ruano also was an experienced helicopter pilot who once flew helicopter charters in Manhattan.