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Small plane makes emergency landing on Treasure Island beach

A flight instructor and a student from Albert Whitted Airport landed safely after the engine gave out.
Neither the pilot nor a passenger were hurt during an emergency landing Sunday morning near the Bilmar resort on Treasure Island.
Neither the pilot nor a passenger were hurt during an emergency landing Sunday morning near the Bilmar resort on Treasure Island. [ MARC TOPKIN | Times ]
Published Jan. 17
Updated Jan. 17

TREASURE ISLAND — A plane carrying a flight instructor and student was forced to make an emergency landing on a strip of beach behind a Treasure Island resort Sunday morning.

The pilot reported an engine problem while flying over the Gulf of Mexico, Treasure Island Fire Rescue Chief William Barrs said.

The plane’s engine eventually died around 9 a.m. and was forced to make an emergency landing behind the Bilmar Beach Resort, 10650 Gulf Blvd. in Treasure Island.

The plane landed safely without any injuries to beachgoers, Barrs said. Neither the instructor nor the student were injured during the landing.

The plane, a 1980 Piper PA-28 with a single engine and four seats, is owned by flight school St. Pete Air at Albert Whitted Airport downtown.

Instructor Jenna Dunay told Spectrum Bay News 9 that the plane took off from the airport and had been airborne about 15 to 20 minutes with the student in control when the engine quit. Dunay took the plane’s controls but could not restart the engine and decided to land on the beach.

During the landing, the tip of the right wing clipped a pole at the end of a water slide, damaging it slightly,

Treasure Island firefighters and police responded to the scene. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the incident.