A TV reporter and a pilot were killed Friday when the small plane in which they were traveling to film a news segment crashed in New Orleans, authorities said.
Fox 8 journalist Nancy Parker, 53, and pilot Franklin Augustus, 69, were the only people on board the aircraft when it came down in a field near New Orleans Lakefront Airport, according to Mayor LaToya Cantrell.
Lynn Lunsford, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson, told BuzzFeed News in an email that the "Pitts S-2B aircraft crashed under unknown circumstances, approximately one-half mile south" of the airport. (Pitts special aircraft are light planes frequently used by stunt pilots to perform aerobatic maneuvers.)
A statement from the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the crash, said that shortly after takeoff at around 3:06 p.m., the pilot had radioed the control tower "and indicated that he was having problems, which were not specified."
"Witnesses reported observing the airplane appeared [sic] to have engine problems shortly after take-off," said the NTSB. "According to witnesses the airplane then pitched down and struck the ground.
"Much of the wreckage was consumed in a post-crash fire," the NTSB added.
According to her network, Parker had been on board the plane to film a segment with Augustus, who was part of a group that honored the Tuskegee Airmen, the famed black pilots who fought during World War II.
Parker's Fox 8 colleagues remembered her as an Emmy Award–winning reporter who worked for 23 years at the network, where she anchored primetime newscasts. "Nancy put her heart and soul into everything she did," read a Fox 8 obituary.
She was also the author of two children's books.
Mayor Cantrell praised the wife and mother of three as a "beautiful human being" and an "invaluable member" of the New Orleans community.
"She told [the news] to us straight, but with a combination of professionalism, intelligence, warmth, and grace we may never experience again," the mayor said.
Local police also remembered Parker as a "true lover of New Orleans — and New Orleans truly loved her back."
Augustus was the president of the Lake Charles Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen association.
"He was one of the most passionate people I know," Maggie Thomas, an administrator with the Tuskegee group, told NOLA.com. "He was remarkable, and full of energy."
The airshow stunt pilot, who fell in love with flying as a teenager, frequently visited schools to encourage black children to become pilots. He also worked as an anti-drug campaigner.
In a 1988 Times-Picayune newspaper article quoted by NOLA.com, Augustus said he was proud to be one of the few black airshow pilots. "I want to let the young people know that if I can make it, anybody can," he said.