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Area man survives plane crash in Pensacola; 1 dies

A New Port Richey man survived the crash of a small single-engine plane at Pensacola Regional Airport on Sunday. The pilot was killed.

The crash early Sunday killed Michael B. Jackson, 43, of Pensacola and injured Greg Sabo, 23, a University of West Florida student from New Port Richey, who was treated for shock and released from Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola.

"I don't know what went wrong, if it was just engine failure or if Mike was clowning around," Sabo said.

He said Jackson was flying low but not attempting to land when he felt the tops of trees hitting the bottom of the aircraft just before it dived into the ground in woods near the end of a runway.

"It was extremely sudden. He didn't have a chance to "Mayday' or anything," Sabo said. "Once the dive started, there were no words exchanged. I could feel him trying to level out. I was scared."

Sabo met Jackson last year while working in a convenience store and didn't even know his last name. When Jackson came into the store, they'd talk about going for a plane ride. They agreed to go on the spur of the moment Saturday night.

"I ran into him at a store and said, "When are we going to go up?' " Sabo said. "He said, "We can go up right now.' "