Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pilot unhurt after plane splashes into bay near Albert Whitted Airport

ST. PETERSBURG — Gilbert Nadeau was trying to land at Albert Whitted Airport on Tuesday evening, but his small two-seater airplane came in too fast.

"He started pumping his brakes," said St. Petersburg Fire Rescue paramedic Greg Harvin, "and started running out of runway."

The pilot ran out of land, too. Nadeau's plane skipped off the runway and plunged into the waters of Tampa Bay, just east of the airport about 7 p.m., authorities said.

But Nadeau, 58, emerged without a scratch. He wasn't even wet.

"The stars lined up for him," Harvin said.

Nadeau told firefighters that he was returning from the Sun 'n Fun Air Show in Lakeland when the accident occurred.

Rusty Burkitt was taking a walk along Albert Whitted Playground when he saw the plane approaching from the west. It was lined up on Runway 3.

"It looked like he was just coming in for a regular landing," Burkitt said. "Then he bounced.

"The next thing I saw was a big splash."

The impact wrecked the airplane, firefighters said, but Nadeau emerged unscathed. A passing boater picked up the St. Petersburg resident and delivered him to paramedics on a rocky outcrop along the water.

They pulled Nadeau onto land, witnesses said, and the pilot walked on his own to the emergency vehicles lined up along the end of the runway.

"He didn't look disabled at all," Burkett said. "He looked disgusted."

Indeed, Harvin said, Nadeau seemed shaken and a bit embarrassed by the crash. When the paramedic asked him what happened, the pilot told him: "Isn't it obvious?"

Firefighters, however, were marveling at his escape — dry and unharmed — from a water crash that totaled the plane.

"That was amazing," Harvin said. "That guy wasn't wet at all."

The plane's canopy was still visible when rescuers arrived and the tail was pointing out of the water. The pilot remained on the runway with firefighters, who were trying to keep the plane's wreckage afloat to prevent any contaminants from leaking into the water.

Booms were placed around the plane to keep it from sinking. It will likely be towed by a fire rescue boat to land. The investigation was continuing Tuesday night.

Jamal Thalji can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8472.

Pilot unhurt after plane splashes into bay near Albert Whitted Airport 04/21/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 21, 2009 11:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Buccaneers-Bills: A by-the-numbers look at Tampa Bay's 30-27 loss


    Here's a by-the-numbers look at the Bucs' 30-27 loss at Buffalo on Sunday:


    Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy (25) screams in jubilation after running for a first down late in the fourth quarter. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  2. Bucs-Bills roundtable: Deonte Thompson's late catch spelled 'instant disaster' for Bucs


    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Adam Humphries' fumble led to the Bills' game-winning field goal in Tampa Bay's 30-27 loss Sunday at Buffalo. But the Bills' first play after the Bucs finally took the lead was almost as deadly.

    The Buffalo Bills' Deonte Thompson (10) catches a pass in front of Bucs cornerback Brent Grimes (24) during the first half. [AP photo]
  3. Bucs-Bills: Instant analysis from the Bucs' 30-27 loss


    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Here's the Tampa Bay Times' Bucs coverage team's instant analysis from the Bucs' 30-27 loss at Buffalo:


    Buffalo Bills outside linebacker Matt Milano (58) intercepts a Jameis Winston (3) pass intended for tight end Cameron Brate (84) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. Bucs overcome 11-point deficit, then allow game to slip away, 30-27, to Bills


    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — In less than a minute, a hard-fought win — and perhaps much more — slipped away from the Bucs, who gave up 10 points in the final four minutes and lost to the Bills, …

    Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) tries to turn the corner as Bucs outside linebacker Lavonte David (54) forces him out of bounds during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  5. Rep. Wilson accuses White House chief of staff of 'character assassination,' calls for apology


    WASHINGTON - Rep. Frederica S. Wilson, D-Fla., on Sunday called White House chief of staff John F. Kelly "a puppet of the president" and said he should apologize for having made false claims about her while defending President Donald Trump's military condolence calls.

    Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., talks to reporters, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz) FLAD103