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Roy Halladay, Former MLB Pitcher Killed in Small Plane Crash, Was New Pilot

by Erik Ortiz /  / Updated 
Image: FILE: Former MLB Pitcher Roy Halladay
Starter Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park on Sept. 17, 2013 in Philadelphia.Drew Hallowell / Getty Images file

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Almost a year after announcing his retirement from Major League Baseball, pitching ace Roy Halladay tweeted a picture of a single-engine Cessna Caravan. His words beamed with pride.

"The newest challenge in aviation for me!" he wrote in November 2014. "I love every min of flying it can't wait to take the family on vacation!"

It was one of dozens of photos that Halladay shared on social media in recent years, expressing his other passion outside of baseball — a love for aviation — that only blossomed after retirement. But it would also cost him his life: Halladay, 40, was killed Tuesday afternoon while piloting a small plane northwest of Tampa, Florida, authorities said.

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As federal investigators continued Wednesday to piece together what led to the crash in the Gulf of Mexico, video also emerged of Halladay's wife saying a month ago that she "fought hard" against him purchasing the plane that he would lose his life in.

Police said Halladay was in a two-seater ICON A5, an amphibious aircraft that debuted in 2014.

The plane includes a feature called the Complete Aircraft Parachute, a device that ICON says has saved lives, "some at altitudes as low as a few hundred feet." Halladay was alone when he crashed.

Related: Roy Halladay Killed in Plane Crash Off Florida Coast

In a statement Tuesday, ICON officials said they had gotten to know the baseball star and his family in recent months, and said they would support the National Transportation Safety Board's investigation.

The same aircraft model was involved in a crash in May in Napa County, California, that killed ICON's lead test pilot and the director of engineering. The NTSB said the probable cause in that crash was related to a pilot error.

Halladay, an eight-time All-Star who spent 12 years with the Toronto Blue Jays and four with the Philadelphia Phillies, was contractually prevented from obtaining his pilot's license while playing.

But once he retired in December 2013, plagued by a string of injuries, Halladay began training to follow in the footsteps of his father, a corporate pilot.

On Twitter, Halladay posted videos of his airborne adventures.

"What do clouds feel like? I didn't know either until I got my new Icon A5! I'm getting bruises on my arms from constantly pinching myself!" the father of two tweeted last month.

That same day, he continued: "I have dreamed about owning a A5 since I retired! Real life is better then my dreams!!"

Image: Roy Halladay
Roy Halladay.Twitter

ICON also released a video last month featuring Halladay and his wife, Brandy, flying and discussing how he couldn't wait to command his own aircraft.

But Brandy Halladay expressed some reservations: "I didn't grow up with airplanes or a comfort level like he did in small airplanes," she said in the video, which has since been deleted.

"She fought me the whole way," Halladay said of buying the ICON A5.

"Hard. I fought hard," she added. "I was very against it."

Halladay revealed in that same video that he had to wait until he retired before he could finally fly. He achieved his pilot's license last year, according to reports.

"It wasn't one of the things I was allowed to do," he said. "When I retired that was one of the first things I wanted to do."

Former Phillies teammate Cole Hamels, who now pitches for the Texas Rangers, said he remembered how excited Halladay was to be able to start on a new journey.

"Knowing that his father was a pilot ... you look up to your dad always," Hamels told reporters Tuesday. "I think that's something he had — that bug to want to fly — and that's something that was his passion. You know you have to respect that."

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