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WEST JORDAN -- A small plane crashed near the South Valley Regional Airport in West Jordan Saturday, killing the pilot.
The plane flies advertising banners over Salt Lake Bees baseball games and was taking off to fly a Saturday night game around 5 p.m. when it crashed. The banner landed not far from the crash site.
Bob Goodlow witnessed the crash. He told KSL NewsRadio the plane rose at a steep angle, but was moving too slowly and couldn't gain enough elevation.
"At some point he realized he was in trouble, dropped the banner, turned to the left towards the west and spiraled into the ground," he said.
It sounded like there could have been some mechanical problems and the plane just nosedived into the ground.
–Lt. Dan Gallagher
West Jordan police Lt. Dan Gallagher said it appears mechanical problems may have contributed to the crash.
"As the plane was lifting off, the banner was dragging kind of on the ground a little bit," he said. "It sounded like there could have been some mechanical problems and the plane just nosedived into the ground."
The plane is owned by Aerial Ads in Heber. KSL spoke to company partner Ken Heidorn over the phone Saturday night.
"All I know is it went down. We don't know the cause," he said. "He was a good pilot. It's the worst thing that could happen."
The Bees subcontract out with Aerial Ads. A spokesperson for the team declined to comment, saying they want to know more and will wait until the family of the pilot is notified.
The banner is a summertime fixture in Salt Lake City and a favorite of fans, who were saddened to hear about the crash.
"I'm shocked," said Bees fan Andre Huntsberger. "That's terrible news, absolutely terrible. Obviously our thoughts and prayers go out to their family. Just really sorry to hear that."
West Jordan police said officials from the FAA and NTSB were en route to start an investigation. The airport was closed due to the crash.
The pilot was confirmed dead at the scene. His name has not been released.