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Search called off for St. Petersburg pilot in Venice plane crash

Christian Kath had recently become a pilot. He and his wife and daughter flew to Venice for dinner.
Christian Kath, 42, Misty Kath, 43, and their daughter Lily, 12, have been identified as the family members involved in a plane crash offshore of the Venice Municipal Airport.
Christian Kath, 42, Misty Kath, 43, and their daughter Lily, 12, have been identified as the family members involved in a plane crash offshore of the Venice Municipal Airport. [ The City of Venice ]
Published Dec. 7, 2022|Updated Dec. 8, 2022

Christian Kath was chasing his childhood dream when he piloted a small plane over the weekend with his wife and oldest daughter. The St. Petersburg family went to Venice for dinner, flying south along the coast.

A Facebook post from Kath, 42, in March shows him smiling in front of the same rented Piper Cherokee that crashed Saturday in the Gulf of Mexico near the Venice Municipal Airport.

Kath, along with his wife, Misty Kath, 43, and their daughter Lily, 12, planned to return the same night, authorities said. However, Venice authorities said the single-engine plane was reported overdue Saturday when it failed to come back to St. Petersburg.

Both his wife and daughter’s bodies have been recovered, but a search for his remains has been discontinued, the city of Venice announced Wednesday.

Related: St. Petersburg family identified in Venice plane crash

The plane took off from Albert Whitted Airport in St. Petersburg at 4:42 p.m. and landed at Venice Municipal Airport at 5:16 p.m., according to Flight Aware, a website that provides real-time and historical flight data. The plane took off again from Venice at 7:37 p.m.

The plane is registered to St. Pete Aviation Services LLC, which is located at 107 Eighth Ave SE, according to Federal Aviation Administration records. The company shares the same address as the airport.

“I flew solo for the first time today! Felt so proud to finally achieve something I’ve been wanting to do since I was 8 years old,” Christian Kath posted on Facebook on March 21.

He wrote that he started lessons for his private pilot’s license last December.

“Thanks for putting up with my early morning lessons and late night studying Misty Kath; it will all feel worth while when we can fly to the keys for a weekend away with Lily and Harper soon,” Christian Kath wrote.

Misty Kath replied to the post, writing “So, so proud of you!!! I cannot wait for all our flying adventures.”

According to records from the FAA, Christian Kath received his private pilot certification on July 31.

The Kaths were living in St. Petersburg but had previously lived in Australia. According to 7News, an Australian news outlet that spoke with Christian Kath’s father, Chris Kath, the family had lived in the U.S. for four years, and they had previously lived in Chicago before moving to Florida.

“I want Christian to also be remembered for his depth of character as well as his loving character,” Christian Kath told 7News.

7News reported the family’s youngest daughter was not on the plane when it crashed. The girl, 10, was at a sleepover Saturday night and was expecting to be picked up the next morning, the news outlet reported.

“She was trying to text and call her mum and sister in the morning, (asking) when were they coming to pick her up,” the pilot’s father told 7News.

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Rachel Barrett, a spokesperson for Shorecrest Preparatory School in St. Petersburg, confirmed Lily was a student at the school.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is helping members of the Kath family in Australia, 7News reported.

On Monday, authorities said it was unclear what had caused the plane crash.

A preliminary report into the cause of the plane crash is expected to be published in 15 days, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.