Mark S. Palmieri and Ross V. Allan loved helicopters.
Palmieri flew them for Bravo Helicopters, the business hed been building since 2006, after 22 years in the U.S. Coast Guard.
His four choppers rent by the hour to aerial photographers, land surveyors, sightseers and others seeking a birds-eye view of South Florida.
Allan, who got his pilots license at 16, had been flying and fixing helicopters for much of his working life. He served with Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue as a co-pilot and mechanic and on days off, maintained aircraft for clients like Bravo.
The morning of April 3, Allan put new rotor blades on Bravos Robinson R-44, something that his wife, Rosa, said hed done hundreds of times.
Then the two men took it up from Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport to run a track and balance test.
Minutes later, about 4 p.m., eyewitnesses said they heard irregular engine sounds. Then the craft, with Palmieri at the controls, exploded, sending the tail section spinning away from the body, which crashed onto a warehouse parking lot at SW 124th Avenue and 130th Street.
The men, both 53, died at the fiery scene. Police and federal agencies are investigating.
Allan is the first Fire-Rescue pilot to die in a crash since the department starting flying in 1985, said Special Operations Division Chief Ray Barreto.
Allan joined the department as an aircraft technician in 1996 and qualified for co-pilot 2007. He was a good man, a good technician and pilot, someone who loves his family and worked hard to support them, Barreto said.
The department has two, $9 million Bell 412, jet-engine helicopters that usually fly search-and-rescue and trauma missions, and haul giant water buckets to Everglades fires, Barreto said. Allan was on the crew that maintains them.
He added that pilots liked flying with him because of his mechanical know-how, which offered a sense of security. He brought that comfort level.
He leaves behind his wife Rosa, and four children: sons David and Gabriel, 24 and 18, daughters Shlomit and Jessica, 17 and 16. David works at Publix; the others attend Felix Varela High School.
A sister, Lisa Allan Ziemann, of Sidney, N.Y., also survives.
Rosita Carbonell met Allen when he was in Peru flying dangerous drug-interdiction missions as Maoist Shining Path guerillas waged war against the government.
She called him her Prince Charming in cowboy boots.
They married Nov. 7, 1987 six months after they met.
Allan had been the man of the family since the age of 9, when his father died, his wife said.
By 16, he was the assistant manager of a grocery store in the small, Catskills town of Sidney, N.Y., and was flying small planes.
He could fly before he could drive, Rosa Allan said.
The Allans spent their early married life in Louisiana, Texas and the Middle East, where Ross worked for helicopter companies. Their oldest son was born in Yemen.
Allan settled his family in Miami while he continued to work in Egypt, but just before their third childs birth, he took a job with Miami-Dades mosquito control department.
From there he became a Fire-Rescue aircraft mechanic, and at age 47, decided to go through the fire academy.
She said that the day of his death began routinely, when he took the kids to Varela. As they always did, they called and texted throughout the day.