NTSB: Heart problems contributed to fatal airplane crash in Easton, Minn.

National Transportation Safety Board

A heart problem probably is responsible for a plane crash near Mankato, Minn., last spring that killed a pilot, the National Transportation Safety Board has revealed.

Jeffrey Dean Zabel, 44, died when his plane crashed while performing aerobatics near a friend’s farm in Easton, Minn.

In its investigation, the NTSB says Zabel had at least one episode of chest discomfort and palpitations, some heartburn, and at least one episode of dizziness while performing aerobatics previously.

An autopsy showed significant heart disease. The NTSB also said the pilot’s grandfather and father had suffered sudden cardiac death — the father at age 42 and the grandfather at age 52.

“It is likely that the pilot became incapacitated due to an acute cardiac event and lost control of the airplane,” the NTSB said in its report.