Small plane with unresponsive pilot crashes into Gulf of Mexico
A Cessna 421, similar to the one pictured, reportedly circled the Gulf of Mexico for hours before crashing.
April 19th, 2012
12:08 PM ET

Small plane with unresponsive pilot crashes into Gulf of Mexico

[Updated at 2:16 p.m. ET]  A small plane with an unresponsive pilot crashed in the central Gulf of Mexico on Thursday after circling above the ocean for more than two hours, but it appeared intact after hitting the water, the U.S. Coast Guard reported.

The tail of the twin-engine Cessna 421 remained sticking out of the Gulf about 120 miles west of Tampa, Florida, after it went down at 12:08 p.m. ET, said Chief Petty Officer John Edwards, a Coast Guard spokesman. The crew of a Coast Guard search-and-rescue plane watched as the Cessna made what appeared to be a soft landing, Edwards said.

A Coast Guard helicopter and the cutter Coho were expected to reach the site Thursday afternoon, he said.

The plane took off from Slidell, Louisiana, en route to Sarasota, Florida, with a single pilot on board, and had been circling at an altitude of about 28,000 feet, a Federal Aviation Administration source told CNN. The Air Force began monitoring the plane after noticing it flying erratically over the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday morning, and planes sent up to investigate it reported the Cessna's windows were either iced or fogged over, Edwards said.

Mike Maddox, a manager at the Slidell airfield where the plane took off, confirmed there was a situation with a plane and said family members had been notified, but he had no further comment.

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Filed under: Air travel • Military • U.S. Coast Guard
soundoff (99 Responses)
  1. Texan

    N48DL on flightaware. I'll add to to my collection of aircraft accident flight tracks.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. codyloco

    Those last couple of turns that are logged do not look good at all... gives me the shivers...

    April 19, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ben James

    Say a prayer

    April 19, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      And whats that going to accomplish?

      April 19, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. RCpilot

    Explosive decompression

    April 19, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mary

    This isn't going to end well.......

    April 19, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Duane

    I wonder if the pilot is already dead?

    April 19, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. sparky

    Not as scary as fvcking idiots like you with the right to vote

    April 19, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jeffrey Brettler

    same thing happened to pro golfer payne stewart years back.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer

      big difference between this one and the Stewart strangeness is that Stewart's plane had a crew – very difficult to disable EVERYONE on board a plane rather than just a pilot.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. TJ Baker

    @Texan

    That looks horrendous! Not good at all...

    April 19, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. sparky

    another 1%er playing in his toy that'll end up in disaster

    April 19, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • BobbyBrick

      Not that it could have been a medial transport bringing a new organ to someone in desperate need...or anything like that huh? You f'n genius.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Air Force Fighter Pilot

    Fox 2

    April 19, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • BobbyBrick

      I doubt that was even necessary, going down on its own.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Michael

    RIP. Looking at the flightaware data, the plane hit the deck at about 12:08PM EST. Most likely ran out of fuel since it had been in the air for nearly 5 hours.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. heywood

    According to speed/alt graph it has already ended poorly

    April 19, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Wes

    It must've gone down... so tragic.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mike

    AMRAAM test?

    April 19, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
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