A Tampa doctor with a passion for flying died Saturday after his private plane crashed near Kokomo, Ind.
Dr. Daniel P. Greenwald, 59, was a well-known plastic surgeon with a private practice, Bayshore Plastic Surgery, in Tampa’s Channelside district. He was named one of America’s top surgeons in 2009 and specialized in hand and microvascular surgery, cosmetic plastic surgery and also performed gender reassignment surgeries.
His twin-engine plane took off from Kokomo Municipal Airport sometime before 5 p.m. Saturday, according to Indianapolis station WISH-TV. Then deputies found the plane crashed in a soybean field about four miles away. Greenwald was the only person inside the plane and died at the scene of the crash, according to the Howard County Sheriff’s Office. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the crash.
His family, including his wife and two children, are devastated. “He was the center of our family’s universe,” said his daughter, Alix Greenwald, 31. “I’ve never met anyone more skilled at so many things. He spent all his time learning new things, mastering skills and spending time with his family.”
Daniel Greenwald, the former head of plastic surgery at Tampa General Hospital, had been flying planes since he was a teenager, he told the Tampa Bay Times in 2003. The hobby was an adrenaline rush that he found relaxing.
“I get to recharge my batteries by directing all my mental abilities into one specific thing that’s not work,” he told the Times. “Everything else in life takes a back seat to what you’re doing” in the cockpit. In 2011 he posted a video on YouTube of himself practicing aerobatic maneuvers, like flips and loops, in an Extra 300L plane.
“He was a consummate airman, he was a guy who loved aviation in all forms," said Dr. Richard Karl, a friend, fellow pilot and chairman emeritus of the surgery department at the University of South Florida.. “He pursued jets, he pursued aerobatics — he was a guy who loved to fly as much as he loved to breathe.”
Greenwald had been a member of the medical staff at Tampa General for more than 20 years and his education included studies at Harvard, Princeton and Yale, the hospital said in a news release.
“We will remember Dr. Greenwald’s sparkling intellect, his kindness to everyone he met, and his great enthusiasm, not just for surgical innovation, but for living life to the fullest,” the news release said.
“He was deeply dedicated to his patients, including those who faced devastating traumatic injuries, and his rare skills brought so many of them healing and renewed health.”
Brushes with danger didn’t seem to chill his enthusiasm for flying. In 2003, his close friend David Cahill, a prominent Tampa neurosurgeon, flipped his twin-propeller Beechcraft while attempting to land in Memphis International Airport. Cahill and a passenger were killed and two others on board were seriously injured. Greenwald and Cahill had co-owned two airplanes: a Seneca and P-Baron, according to an article published in Flying Magazine.
In 2008, Greenwald clipped a sailboat while flying an Extra 300 single-engine plane then careened into a sea wall and flipped into the Peter O. Knight Airport airfield on Davis Islands. Greenwald broke his left hand and his passenger broke his leg in the accident. “I’ve had better days. I am alive,” Greenwald said at the time.
Alix Greenwald said that, besides flying, her father loved seafood, neon, reggae, his community “and above all, my mom, whom he loved to a degree I am in awe of," she said. “He always fully grasped what was important in life.”