Friends are mourning the death of Dr. Evan Zeiger Jr.
The Birmingham neurosurgeon's World War II-era plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico near Grayton Beach Saturday.
Although it hasn't been officially confirmed, friend's say Zeiger's wife died in the crash with him.
"Evan was a thrill seeker, there's no question about it. He was a thrill seeker" says local dentist Dr. Joe Carnley.
Carnley and Zeiger have been best friends and aviation partners for years.
Dr. Carnley phoned his close friend Dr. Zeiger just hours before Zeiger's vintage AT-6 "Texan" aircraft crashed into the gulf off the South Walton coastline this weekend.
"One thing great about it, before I hung up I said "well I love you, and he said “love you too”. We were just great friends" Carnley says of the late Dr. Zeiger.
Two different condo owners snapped pictures of Zeiger's plane, flying in formation with some of his buddies on Friday.
They went-up again Saturday, flying in roughly the same area.
Authorities say sometime around 12:30 P.M. Zeiger's plane hit the water about a half mile from shore.
It took most of the afternoon before search and rescue teams found the bodies of Zeiger and his female passenger.
Autopsy results have yet to confirm the woman's identity.
But those close to Zeiger say it was his wife Peggy who was on board with him.
"It was his wife who was in the backseat of the airplane, I know that for a fact” Dr. Carnley says.
Carnley says Zeiger had over 35 years flying experience.
He believes if the crash wasn't due to mechanical problems, it was probably a split second lapse in judgment.
"When he came over and pulled the nose down, it's called “dishing out”, so the nose is going drop below the tail and I think he probably hit like that, inverted just a little bit" Dr. Carnley says imitating the stunt Dr. Zeiger was probably attempting before the crash.
The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the accident.
The name of Zeiger's passenger is expected to be officially released by tomorrow morning.