The owner of a small airplane that crashed early Wednesday into a botanical garden in Virginia, killing three people, says the flight originated in Key West, Florida.

James Beauchamp of Corapeake, North Carolina, says the 1975 Mooney aircraft was piloted by a friend, Michael Buxton of Portsmouth, Virginia. He says Buxton and two friends were en route home from Key West, where Buxton kept a sailboat.

Beauchamp says the plane was in good mechanical condition and called Buxton "a very conscientious, qualified pilot."

The plane stopped for refueling in Palatka, Florida, on its way to Virginia.

Beauchamp says Buxton first tried to land at his intended destination, Suffolk Executive Airport, but then changed course and headed toward nearby Norfolk International Airport, possibly because of fog.