Plane Crashes In Gulf Of Mexico After Pilot Became Unresponsive
[Updated: 2:57pm EST] The downed airplane that had been found upright and floating in the water about 120 miles off the coast has now sunk with no trace of the pilot while a Coast Guard airplane watched. Coast Guard officials said the plane landed "softly" but later sunk. The search has now been called off.
According to the FAA, it lost contact with an airplane about 133 miles off the southwest coast of Saint Petersburg Florida after its pilot was unresponsive. The pilot is a doctor from Slidell.
The plane departed Slidell, Louisiana and was bound for Sarasota and was a Cessna 421.
North American Aerospace Defense Command spokesman John Cornelio said the NORAD dispatched F-15 fighter jets jets and made visual contact at 8:45 a.m. and found it at 28,000 feet with ice covered windows doing a spiral downward slowly. Repeated attempts by the F-15's to reach the pilot by radio failed as did visual flight maneuvers. The F-15 pilots were not able to get a clear visual of the pilot and could only see a figure in the cockpit that was not moving.
The airplane's transponder signal was lost at 12:20pm, which is when officials believe the plane crashed into the water.
The Coast Guard is currently searching the area for any signs of life or wreckage.
The Cessna 421 is a twin engine small airplane meant for personal use and has a pressurized cabin. The military said they are unsure if the plane lost pressurization or if there was another problem and that normally if a plane looses pressurization the pilot declares an emergency and descends to a lower elevation.