WESLEY CHAPEL — A single-engine Cessna skidded off the runway Thursday at Tampa North Aero Park and slammed into two cars parked at an adjacent medical manufacturing company.
No one was injured, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office said.
A 60-year-old student pilot was taking off from the small airport off old County Road 54, west of Interstate 75, when he ran into trouble and tried to land, the Sheriff's Office said. He lost control of the aircraft and struck the two cars, which belong to employees who were inside Rochester Electro-Medical Inc. at 4212 Cypress Gulch Drive.
Authorities said it was the second solo flight for the pilot, whose name had not been released. The Federal Aviation Administration is handling the investigation.
Alayne Berkins, president and owner of Rochester, was standing by a metal door about 2 p.m. when she heard a boom.
"I thought it was a big bird hitting the door,'' she said. "I went 'Aha!' and I jumped. My husband went to the door. He said, 'There's a plane on two cars out here!' "
Demetrius Tolbert, 38, of Tampa works as a solderer for Rochester. He stood staring at his wrecked white 2005 Chevy Impala.
"I want to see what GEICO is going to say about this one," Tolbert said.
Shirley Manzella, 44, of Port Richey owns the other car damaged in the crash, a bright blue 2007 Chevy Aveo. As she talked to her insurance company on a cell phone outside the building, she said, "A plane landed on my car. … If you guys hurry up, you can see it."
Dave Allen, acting battalion chief for Pasco Fire Rescue, said the pilot was not injured.
"He climbed out of the plane on his own," Allen said, "a little rattled.''
Allen said the plane had 35 gallons of fuel and that the fuel was contained.
While surveying the damage, Tolbert said that employees at the medical device manufacturer often eat lunch outside to watch the planes on the nearby runway. Now he might think twice about that.
"I never thought a plane could run off the runway and crash into a car," he said.