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UPDATE: Pilot, wife from suburban Lake Worth died in John Prince Park plane crash 

NEW: Records show that Philip Castronova, 70, didn’t have an FAA certificate

Authorities have released the names of the husband and wife who were killed Sunday when their small plane crashed into John Prince Park west of Lake Worth. 

Philip Castronova, 70, and his wife Mandy Castronova, 39, of suburban Lake Worth were on their way home from Key West, where they met years ago. 

Related: Two killed when plane crashes in John Prince Park

Federal Aviation Administration records show “no certificate” for Philip Castronova. 

That typically means the pilot’s certificate was suspended or revoked, Robert M. Katz, a 29-year flight instructor and 37-year commercial pilot based in Dallas, Texas, said late Monday. Mandy Castronova is not listed in the FAA database. 

An FAA spokeswoman declined to provide more information Monday evening. 

Friends and family said Philip Castronova spent half of his life with planes — buying them, selling them, flying them. 

But he prized one above all — a 1979, twin-engine, six-seat Cessna 335.

He’d hop in the plane with a flying buddy and head to Sebring for breakfast or Islamorada for lunch, or he’d spend a few days in the Bahamas.

“We did everything together. We flew together. We fixed planes together. We sat there and grilled burgers together on the weekend,” one of those flying buddies, Glenn Corkins, recalled Monday.

The Castronovas were on their way home Sunday morning from a weekend in the Keys. They were about a mile from the Lantana airport when the plane crashed in a grassy area of the park.

The plane slammed into the ground only a couple hundred feet at most from the eastbound lanes of Sixth Avenue South. The aircraft tore down branches, and erupted in flames. Witnesses said they heard explosions.

Despite the smoke and the fire, bystanders of all ages ran toward the plane in a futile effort to rescue the couple.

Investigators don’t know what caused the aircraft to crash said a National Transportation Safety Board spokesman. The NTSB — working with the Federal Aviation Administration — will release preliminary findings within 10 days. The full investigation could take 18 to 24 months. Investigators will look at a variety of factors that, when narrowed down, revolve around “man, machine and environment,” the spokesman said.

The NTSB did not say who was flying the plane.

Weather, however, does not appear to have been a factor. The skies were partly sunny over Palm Beach County with a light wind around the time of the crash, according to the National Weather Service.

Corkins, who shared a hangar with Castronova at Palm Beach County Park Airport in Lantana, suspects engine failure, either from a mechanical problem or lack of fuel. He said the plane was in good condition. He spent Sunday night harrowing over what could have gone wrong.

“I’ve been flying this thing all night in my head,” he said. “I flew many times with him as his co-pilot. We’d practice safety procedures. He was a damn good pilot. To this day I trust him with my life. I just don’t understand what happened.”

Castronova, known to some as Christiano, ran Nova Aviation and bought and sold planes. He and Mandy Castronova met at Fantasy Fest, an annual 10-day party in Key West every fall.

“They were a happy couple. It’s just tragic, absolutely tragic what’s going on here,” Corkins said.

Mandy Castronova’s brother described his sister as a kind, gentle woman. She managed an apartment complex.

“She never knew a stranger or one she wouldn’t help,” Sam Lane said.

The couple enjoyed taking short excursions together, Castronova’s brother Gary Castronova said. He described his brother as outgoing. “His favorite saying was ‘you have to live before you die’,” he said.

Mandy Castronova wasn’t as much into flying as her husband, Corkins said, adding he could count on one hand the number of times he saw her get on the plane.

But to Philip Castronova, flying was everything.

“I feel like this is something he could have done with his eyes closed,” said Joanie Engers, a family friend who said Castronova was a father figure to her. “It’s hard to accept this is the way he passed away.”

Anyone who saw or heard the crash or has other information is asked to write to or call (202) 314-6290.

Staff researcher Melanie Mena contributed to this story.

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