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Hillsborough student pilot, 64, dead after plane crash at Lakeland airport

A 64-year-old student pilot died in a crash landing at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport on Saturday morning, according to the Lakeland Police Department.

Gary Alan Mansell of Plant City was the only person aboard the small plane.

At 10:12 a.m., according to spokesman Gary Gross, Mansell was executing a touch-and-go landing, during which the plane lands on a runway and takes off again without coming to a full stop.

The pilot touched down successfully twice, but on the third attempt, his plane turned sharply to the left and crashed into the grass next to the Sun 'n Fun aviation education campus by the runway.

On impact, the BRM Aero Bristell light-sport plane burst into flames, according to police.

"It's a tragedy for all involved," Gross said.

Firefighters responded and put out the flames within five minutes, but Mansell died at the scene.

Contact Langston Taylor at or 727-893-8659. Follow @langstonitaylor.