Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Small plane crashes at St. Petersburg Country Club

The banner plane clipped a wing on a tree as it landed Thursday at the St. Petersburg Country Club in Lakewood Estates.


The banner plane clipped a wing on a tree as it landed Thursday at the St. Petersburg Country Club in Lakewood Estates.

ST. PETERSBURG — Robert Fields was on top of his roof making repairs Thursday afternoon when he heard a plane's engine putter out as it floated above his home.

The pilot cranked the engine back to life, but it went silent again.

"That's the last thing I need on Christmas, a plane crashing into my living room," said Fields, 49.

Luckily, Fields lives across from the St. Petersburg Country Club in Lakewood Estates. Lots of open space.

Up above, pilot William Gibson, 47, headed toward the 12th hole. It's considered one of the most difficult on the course. Staying out of the trees can be tricky in the tee shot on the par 4 hole, which has a slight dogleg to the right and is 410 yards from the blues (and 284 yards from the reds).

Down below, several people were golfing. They skedaddled into their carts and sped away when they saw the single-engine, fixed-wing plane diving toward them.

The plane clipped a tree near the tee box, shredding a wing. The craft bounced onto the fairway, coming just short of a pond.

"Two more feet, his nose would have been down in the trench," Fields said.

Gibson emerged from the plane with only a minor hand injury.

"I thought I was going to die," Gibson told rescuers, according to a Fire Department spokesman.

Authorities said Gibson, of St. Petersburg, wasn't interested in talking to members of the news media who had arrived on the scene. Attempts to reach him by phone Thursday evening were unsuccessful.

St. Petersburg police reported that Gibson had taken off from Albert Whitted Airport and was pulling a banner advertising a local crab restaurant. After flying over the St. Pete Beach area, Gibson turned the Bellanca Citabria two-seater back toward the airport. Then the engine gave out, officers said.

Gibson realized he couldn't make it back to the airport and looked for a safe place to land.

The Federal Aviation Authority is investigating, police said.

Small aircraft lands on golf course

View Larger Map

Small plane crashes at St. Petersburg Country Club 12/24/09 [Last modified: Thursday, December 24, 2009 10:13pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. As spice incidents decline, Clearwater consultant suggests more coordinated services for street homeless

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — The actual number of homeless people living in downtown streets and parks is not growing, as it has appeared to some city officials and business owners over the past five months, a hired consultant concluded this week.

    Members of the homeless population wait in line before they are fed a meal near the Clearwater Police Department headquarters in June.  EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times

  2. Review: Mumford and Sons shower Amalie Arena with love in euphoric Tampa debut


    There are releases, and then there are releases. And minutes into their concert Wednesday at Amalie Arena, Mumford and Sons gave Tampa the latter.

    Mumford and Sons performed at Tampa's Amalie Arena on Sept. 20, 2017.
  3. FEMA to open disaster recovery center in Riverview


    The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it will open a disaster recovery center Thursday in Riverview for Hillsborough County residents impacted by Hurricane Irma.

  4. Life sentence for man convicted in killing of brother of Bucs' Kwon Alexander


    An Alabama man who shot and killed the 17-year-old brother of Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander in 2015 was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday, the Anniston (Ala.) Star reported.

  5. Remember him? Numbers prove Ben Zobrist is one of greatest Rays of all time

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first foray back to the Trop by the best manager the Rays have had obscured the second return visit by arguably the second-best player in franchise history.


    Chicago Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist (18) grounds into a double play to end the top of the third inning of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.