Neighbors of critically injured pilot, Mark Love, pray for speedy recovery

6:46 PM, Dec 21, 2013   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida - A Bay area pilot remains in critical condition on Saturday after he crash landed in a field at Tampa International Airport.

A Bay area community learned late Friday evening that the pilot, Mark E. Love, is their neighbor.

"Well, I didn't believe it," said Martha Villar, who lives right next door to Love's Oak River Drive apartment.

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"Nobody could say anything bad about him, nothing. Because if anyone says something bad about him, it's a lie," she said.

The 58-year-old is known to neighbors as a quiet and friendly person who mostly keeps to himself.

Love's plane went down at the corner of Hillsborough Ave. and the Veterans Expressway on Thursday night around 11:45 p.m. Radio transmissions between Love and the TIA control tower revealed that Love lost oil pressure shortly before he crash-landed and the plane burst into flames.

In the distance, a Tampa Police helicopter with two officers on board heard the radio transmission and got to the field where the crash had taken place.

When the plane touched the ground, officer Brian Gentry ran over to the wreckage. He tried to get to Love, who lay unconscious in the cockpit, but the wreck was on fire.

STORY: Hero Tampa officers pull pilot from burning plane

"(I) grabbed a fire extinguisher and I was able to put a small fire out. Then I go to the co-pilot side of the aircraft and I was able to force that door open, and remove the pilot from there," said Gentry.

Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor praised the officers for their bravery and for getting Love out alive.

"What they did last night was save this individual's life. There's no doubt about that," said the chief.

In Love's Tampa community, neighbors are praying for his full recovery.

"I hope he does get better, come out of this very quickly. And we'll all be here to make sure he gets better," said Beate Martina DeGroat, Love's neighbor.

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