TAMPA — A police boat and a private seaplane rescued a pilot and a passenger after a small plane crashed into Tampa Bay on Monday morning near Peter O. Knight Airport, Tampa police say.
The plane went down about 500 yards southwest of an airport runway around 10:11 a.m., police said. Both occupants of the plane escaped injury.
Aerial images showed a single-engine plane submerged in the bay. The plane involved was a Mooney M20 that had taken off from Gainesville headed to Peter O. Knight, police spokesperson Sandra Bentil said.
Engine problems caused the crash, Bentil said. One occupant was rescued by seaplane and the other by Tampa police’s marine unit.
“They both just feel really lucky to be alive,” Bentil said.
An investigation has been opened by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.
To pinpoint what went wrong, Bentil said, Tampa police divers must recover the sunken plane from the bay. Divers were headed to the crash site around 12:30 p.m. and were to place inflatable flotation devices beneath the plan to raise it, she said.
The identities of those involved in the crash were not released by police.
This is the third plane to make an emergency landing in the Tampa Bay area during the past two weeks.
A rescue boat crew from Coast Guard Station St. Petersburg pulled a pilot from Tampa Bay three miles south of MacDill Air Force Base on Friday. The crew was undergoing training when it was diverted to the rescue operation at about 6:30 p.m.
The Cherokee 180 plane was submerged and the owner was working with commercial salvage for recovery. A hazard to navigation notice was broadcast to marine traffic. The pilot was able to use the light on his cell phone to signal the rescue crew, said Petty Officer 2nd Class Steven Hava.
The cause of the Friday crash is under investigation.
On Nov. 4, a mosquito control plane with engine problems made a safe emergency landing in the grassy median of Bruce B. Downs Boulevard in New Tampa. The plane had taken off from Tampa Executive Airport.