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. Simon

    it has crashed into the gulf

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

      What's the fuel tank capacity?

      April 19, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Goose66

    Not-so-violent decompression. Payne Stewart all over again.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joe

    From what I can tell, looks like the plane has met the water?

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

    Unless his plane was pressurized, the lack of oxygen would have got him if he was still alive when he lost control.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • dd1968

      The Cessna 421 does have a pressurized cabin. Clearly though, they lost cabin pressure. The time you have to don a mask after loss of cabin pressure is very short before you start to become impaired to the point that you can't do so.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Luvvy Duvvy

    Looks like little sparky wants people with different views or more toys than him not to be able to vote. Nice, Comrade.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. BOMBO ©

    They should have put the naked dude from Oregon on that plane.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. gk2011

    I haven't been able to get FlightAware to update at all in the past 14 or so minutes, the track shows the plane jutting N out of the frightening-looking double-circle and thin loop.. Has it changed for anybody else?

    April 19, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      That is because it has landed in the gulf.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. gk2011

    Well, I now feel like a jerk / idiot :-/ Nevermind, then..

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

    Hes in a better place right now. At peace

    April 19, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. CenTexan©


    April 19, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Rick

    If the windows were frosted over, he lost pressurization.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. glades2

    Very high performance airplane – it was just below it's service ceiling of 30,800' so perhaps this is similar to the accident of 1999, when a well known golfer and several others died when their jet suddenly lost pressurization and caused them to lose consciousness...

    April 19, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anthony

      Thanks for that ceiling info. I was wondering what a Cessna was doing at 28,000 feet, but if as you stated it was ok to around 30, then that answers that.

      April 19, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Cricket


    April 19, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ducati916

    testing new US drone?

    April 19, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  15. retief1954

    Roms' latest attempt to sell himself to conservatives... cite some dire, imagined "left-wing conspiracy"??? Check THAT one off. Next!

    April 19, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
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