VIRGINIA KEY, FLA. (WSVN) - A pilot and a passenger have been left shaken but not hurt after their small plane plunged into the ocean near Virginia Key, authorities said.
Cellphone video captured the Cessna 172 Skyhawk floating in the water, Thursday night.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the aircraft had taken off from Miami Executive Airport at 6:36 p.m.
Shortly after, investigators said the pilot was forced to make an emergency landing about eight miles southeast of Miami.
“We found a Cessna plane around 20 feet off shore,” said City of Miami Fire Rescue Lt. Pete Sanchez.
7News learned there was a bicyclist in the area who spotted the plane and called out to City of Miami Ocean Rescue.
“We were literally about to get off shift,” said Amanda Dominguez with Miami Ocean Rescue. “At first, I didn’t believe it because that never happens.”
Fortunately, both the pilot and the passenger were able to walk away unharmed.
Ocean Rescue officials on Friday said the 21-year-old pilot had a 27-year-old student passenger on board for a flying lesson.
The pilot told authorities he started having problems with the aircraft about 40 minutes after takeoff.
“He was flying with a passenger, and he began to experience engine trouble,” said Sanchez.
The Cessna landed near Virginia Key Beach Park, officials said.
“He did say it was a mechanical failure, and he safely made an emergency landing, and luckily, neither of them were injured,” said Sanchez.
Paramedics checked out the pilot and the passenger at the scene.
“The nose of the plane began to lean forward, taking in water as it did when it landed, but then it leveled itself out,” said Sanchez. “They began to make their way out of the plane, and Miami Ocean Rescue got into the water and assisted them onto land.”
Both the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating, but the NTSB is in charge of the investigation.
“Super lucky, I mean, a few more feet and you have the rocks right here,” said Sea Tow Capt. Eduardo Barreto.
Sea Tow has been working to remove the plane from the bay and onto dry land, so investigators can find out what caused the failure. As of Friday afternoon, the plane remains in the waters of Biscayne Bay.
Officials have not released the names of the pilot and passenger. 7News has reached out to the agencies and are waiting for more information.
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