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. phunk

    Or here's a thought: why don't we let the Koreans deal with their own issues? That would be refreshing for a change.

    April 19, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Amused

    Luvy – I agree with your sentiment, but this "save the world with our guns" mentality is precisely how we got into this ridiculous mess in Iraq and Afganistan! George W Bush had the same foolish delusion! The problem is that these so-called "mercy" missions are NEVER as easy nor straightforward as we like to imagine them to be! The notion that these oppressed North Koreans will simply surrender and then give us all big hugs for saving them is nothing more than a big fairy tale! "Saving" the oppressed North Koreans will probably turn out to be more like our pointless Vietnam War than any successful "mercy" mission! I'm just saying that a military-style attempt to "liberate" a country of people who have not asked for our help is asking for yet another complete disaster of a war that we cannot afford!...

    April 19, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hooah!

      Blah blah blah

      April 19, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • JC

      NK is a closed society. They never heard of the Beatles, or IPhones, or 8-track tapes, or most other countries. You'd have to take over the schools and save the young ones if you were going to free the country. Almost worth a war when you think of all those sharp young minds getting blunter and blunter.

      April 19, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Caro

    and this has what to do with the unresponsive pilot?

    April 19, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Evangenital

    at lest he didn't feel a thing.

    April 19, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. dreamer96

    I know this sounds crazy,...but with what we know about drones, we could make an autopilot system that using a radio code could take control of the plane, and fly the plane to the nearest airport and land if the pilot could not...I thought that with the Payne Stewart crash in 1999, I know there are issues, and cost, an security issues too...just saying we could do it..we have the communication systems, and the ability...but it would be just too dangerous for our country to make systems like that, and to sell them, make them commercially available...And to the people that think it would cost to Microsoft Flight Simulator...and then add a few fly by wire controls..

    April 19, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hooah!

      Keep dreaming

      April 19, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Moosemeat

    @dreamer96 You start off with an argument then finish by bashing that argument?

    April 19, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • dreamer96

      I look at things from many sides at the same time...that is different than bashing my own argument..more like putting out pros and cons..trying to get people to think..Guess that is why I solved problems others could not..and drove some others a little crazy...and was nomitated for a national award..but then stuck my neck out again, before they gave out any awards...Life is ups and downs you know...and confusing to some The Republicans being the pro-life party, and the pro-death sentence party, at the same time...

      April 20, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. DCB

    Everybody - left, right, center, whatever - can get their heart wrenched by stories of injustice abroad. We in the USA cannot go barging in everywhere, as hard as it is to do less. What about Syria? What about oppression on the African continent? Etc. In each case there are other countries (aka neighbors) who can help, and other options besides another war. Same with North Korea. Patience is a response, too.

    April 19, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • jamest


      April 19, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Sal

    There are some really stupid comments in here that have no relevancy to the article. 

    April 19, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mikemo

      Welcome to the internet, home of the irrelevant comment.

      April 19, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Joshua Ludd

    "The Air Force sent planes to observe the Cessna"

    Which is standard procedure when a pilot does not respond and an aircraft has gone off of course. Still.. didn't happen on 9-11.

    April 19, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • jamest

      so whatcha sayin?

      April 19, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      since 9.11 everything is "instantaneous" response wise. Then, the decisions were being made and communicated along, and initially no one person knew 4 separate incidents/planes were rogue. Once one hit, people started to put two and two together. Yes, we forgot Pearl Harbor. Yes, our guard was down.
      Yes, that day will come again. We might not see it, but it will come, esp with budget driving programs and cuts.

      April 19, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • dreamer96

      Joshua Great name I'm thinking of the computer in WarGames..

      Anyway on 911 Dick Cheney was in a bunker working with NORAD running drills, exercises, wargames, of hijacked passenger jets used as homemade curise missiles, and the fuel as a weapon, and flown by auto pilot or programed men..and Cheney even called back scrambled jets for one of the real hijacked passenger jets, because he thought is was part of the drills...

      That was part of the problem that morning the drills were just like the real thing, and confused the people at NORAD...Those drills were based on some of the warnings made by 12 different groups and individuals about an attack like 911, some made years earlier, all through US DOD or intelligents networks, many were kept inside the DOD only, no warnings to our nations air ports, the other law enforcement and intelligence groups claimed they never knew about them till after the 911 investigation...

      Google John P. O'Neill sometime sad but true story about the former head of the FBI bin laden team, forced out of the FBI..and ended up working at the Twin Towers on 911, as head of security...and died there...his nightmare of an attack happened and he was powerless to stop those planes...And if flight 93 had not been delayed, and the passengers had not gotten warned about the attack from their cell phones, half of Congress might have died that day too..

      April 22, 2012 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  10. Aaron

    There is nothing quite like the dismemberment and disfigured female solder on the Battle field. This is really going to go well with the troops. Good job Armed Forces on top never ending silly wars now we can see blown to pieces woman on CNN. Just what America Needs.

    April 19, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Proud American

    So is anyone going to call out Mitt Romney about paling around with a pedophile?

    April 19, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Obvious

      Well, all the commies, socialist and general anti-American Way types were unavailable due to their Obama Administration jobs and time spent "socalizing" with Obama!

      April 19, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. JC

    Sorry, posting your drivel on the wrong story makes it just seem like someone missed their OCD meds this morning.

    April 19, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Shuffler

    There seems to be a lot of ignorant folks frequenting this site.

    April 19, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ron

    Reminds me of Payne Stewart. Can't believe that happened 13 years ago.

    April 19, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Oh'really

    That's pretty bad but it reminds me of America with an "unresponsive" President. We are going to crash too. Obama must go 2012.

    April 19, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
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