THURSDAY APRIL 4TH, 2013
From Stu Jones: Florida Powerboat Club President.
It is with great pain and utter sorrow, that I bring this tragic news to our extended Florida Powerboat Club family. Helicopter owner-pilot Mark Palmieri lost his life late Wednesday in a horrific crash of his Robinson R44, one of four helicopters owned by his company Bravo Helicopters. Also perishing in this accident, a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue (MDFR) employee, who is now confirmed to be Ross Allan. We spoke with a MDFR captain Carlos Gimenez earlier today, to confirm the report. Allan has been a longtime co-pilot with MDFR’s aviation division, which flies a total of four Bell 412 rescue helicopters. In an NBC news report released earlier today, MDFR Special Operations Division Chief Ray Barreto was quoted, saying “Ross was part of our family and it’s an extension of our family and we’re going to miss him.” The NTSB is currently investigating the accident, which was highly publicized by all of the local news and many national news stations across the country in the last 24 hours.
Mark was well known to many of us at Florida Powerboat Club in recent years, as the provider of most helicopters used in the South Florida filming and photography of FPC poker run events and the Powerboating in Paradise TV series, televised on Sun Sports Network. Mark has always been an outstanding pilot, focusing on safety and abiding by all FAA rules and regulations at all times. It has not been determined yet, what the exact cause of the crash was, although there is some speculation that during this routine maintenance flight, a section of tail rotor had separated from the aircraft, causing it to fall rapidly into the parking lot of an industrial complex, about two miles west of Tamiami Airport where Bravo Helicopters is based.
Mark has been a dedicated and loyal service provider to Florida Powerboat Club since 2006, when he started Bravo Helicopters in South Miami. Much of the piloting on FPC events in Bravo-owned aircraft, has also been provided by Alex Arias, a Miami pilot, who has been a close friend with Mark for several years. Alex, currently away on a private flying mission in Dallas TX, confirmed this sad news with us last evening, saying, “Stu, we lost Mark.”
In a strangley related incident just two years ago, Mark survived a high-speed crash in a remote area of the Florida Everglades, as he piloted a similar Robinson R44 back from the Orlando area, after visiting his ailing mother. It was a miracle rescue mission in the tall sawgrass, as a single call by the barely conscious pilot to his girlfriend, forced a 911 call that launched a major search and rescue mission. Mark’s helicopter had virtually disintegrated, and he was miles from roads and waterways. With Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission leading the effort, it was the ultimately the Miami Dade Fire Rescue helicopter, a Bell 412, which saved Mark, by airlifting him to Broward Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale where he later recovered. Although just a coincidence, Ross Allan who accompanied Mark on this fatal test flight, was also employed as a helicopter co-pilot and mechanic for MDFR, the same aviation unit which played a major role in saving Mark’s life just two years earlier.
Mark was absolutely unparrelled in skill, experience and professionalism. He devoted his entire life to his career as a helicopter pilot, and we will miss him dearly. He is survived by his loving girlfriend Carol, mother Doreen, sister Andrea and father Elvio Palmieri, who resides in the Chicago area. Funeral home arrangements are forthcoming and are expected to be in the Kendall area, with final burial expected in the Orlando area, where Mark’s mother currently resides. Ross Allen is survived by his wife Rosa and four children.
Our hearts and prayers go our to the families and loved ones for both victims.