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Small plane crashed 16 seconds after takeoff, killing St. Petersburg family, report says

A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board does not list a cause of the crash.
A graphic from the National Transportation Safety Board's report details the path of the small plane that crashed in Venice, killing three people. It crashed 16 seconds after takeoff.
A graphic from the National Transportation Safety Board's report details the path of the small plane that crashed in Venice, killing three people. It crashed 16 seconds after takeoff. [ National Transportation Safety Board ]
Published Jan. 12|Updated Jan. 12

A newly released preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board determined a small plane was in the air for only 16 seconds before it crashed into the Gulf of Mexico, killing three members of a family from St. Petersburg in December.

The plane — a Piper PA28 — had left St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport on the afternoon of Dec. 3 to fly to Venice Municipal Airport. The report states that at 7:37 p.m., the plane took off about 900 feet from the end of the 5,000-foot Venice runway to fly back to St. Petersburg.

When the plane became airborne, it was traveling at about 101 miles per hour. According to the report, the plane accelerated to around 104 mph as it climbed to 50 feet above the ground.

Data from the plane shows that over the next four seconds, the aircraft got up to 75 feet in altitude and around 108 mph, the NTSB said.

The plane had “little to no angle of climb,” the report said.

It then descended, according to the report, hitting the water at about 125 mph — 16 seconds after it lifted off the runway.

The plane traveled 1,800 feet beyond the departure end of the runway before entering the Gulf of Mexico, the report said.

The pilot was identified as Christian Kath, 42, and the passengers as Misty Kath, 43, and their daughter, Lily, 12.

The report does not list a cause for the crash.

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

It was dark at the time of the crash, the report states, with winds blowing at less than 10 mph. Visibility was listed at 7 miles.

According to the report, Christian Kath had 74.2 total hours of flight experience — 67.6 of them in the same make and model as the airplane that crashed. On July 31, 2022, he received his private pilot certificate, and he logged 13.2 hours after that, the NTSB said.

The plane was built in 1976, according to the report, and most recently inspected on Nov. 2.

Most of the plane’s wreckage was recovered on the floor of the Gulf — roughly 15 feet deep — by local emergency services and a “commercial ocean salvage operator,” according to the report.