Miami-Dade County

Small plane crashes into Atlantic off Miami Beach; pilot survives

A small plane with a trailing ad banner lost power and crash-landed into the Atlantic Ocean off Miami Beach near 45th Street and Collins Avenue on Saturday afternoon, according to witnesses and federal authorities.

The lone pilot of the plane survived and was taken to shore in stable condition by rescue officials with the U.S. Coast Guard and city of Miami Beach, according to Coast Guard officials, who coordinated the rescue effort.

Authorities did not identify the pilot, but the plane — a Cessna L19-305A — is registered to Aerial Banners Inc. of Pembroke Pines, according to Federal Aviation Administration records. Owners of Aerial Banners did not respond to requests for comment.

The plane lost power and crashed about 2:30 p.m., said Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman with the FAA, in email to the Miami Herald. The FAA is handling the investigation. Coast Guard officials said the plane landed in water just 200 yards from shore.

The scene along the crowded beachfront area drew dozens of weekend beachgoers and others who took to social media to report what they saw fall from the Florida sky.

One witness, Joe Talbott, told the Herald he was on a nearby balcony when he noticed the plane’s advertising banner drifting awkwardly behind it. “The banner was drifting and landed in the water, and we just thought, that’s kinda strange,” he said.

The plane then began losing altitude in what appeared, to Talbott, like a controlled descent. It then hit the water near the shore and began listing on its side, he said. It was submerged within minutes.

Jet skiers began approaching the plane, and the Coast Guard appeared soon afterward to rescue the pilot.

“The Coast Guard’s priority was to get to the scene to assist as safely and quickly as possible,” said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Katie Campbell.

The Miami Beach incident came just a day after another small aircraft — bound for Naples, Florida —crashed off the coast of Jamaica. The tragedy claimed the lives of a prominent Rochester, New York, couple, Larry Glazer, 68, and his wife, Jane Glazer, 68. The husband was an experienced pilot who is believed to have fallen unconcious while piloting the plane.

Rescue crews searching off Jamaica’s coast on Saturday said they could no longer see debris spotted earlier, frustrating efforts to solve the mystery surrounding the crash of the small plane that went on an eerie 1,700-mile journey from New York to Florida.

Jamaican officials said that possible wreckage from the single-engine turboprop Socata TBM700 was sighted Friday night by a military aircraft flying off the island’s northeast coast.

But on Saturday, Jamaica Coast Guard Commander Antonette Wemyss-Gorman said that the pieces of floating debris could no longer be seen. “We would have to assume it may have sunk,” she said.

Miami Herald staff writer Megan Barrow contributed to this report.

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