Plane with unconscious pilot crashes into Gulf of Mexico
Updated: April 19, 2012 - 01:19 pm
A Cessna 421 plane traveling from Louisiana to Florida's Gulf Coast crashed into the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday after the pilot reportedly fell unconscious.
An official with United States Coast Guard confirmed to CNN just after 12:30 p.m. that the plane went down in the Gulf's waters. Petty Officer Elizabeth Boderland says the plane crashed about 120 miles west of Tampa, Fla., at about 12:10 p.m. Eastern.
ABC's James Ryan originally reported that assets from the U.S. Coast Guard, the FAA and NORAD have been tracking the plane with the unconscious pilot and are preparing for a response and rescue if necessary.
A NORAD official confirmed to ABC News that two F-15 jets made contact with the plane on Thursday morning and have been monitoring it ever since as it flies aimlessly over the Gulf.
ABC News reports that the Coast Guard has put boats and mariners in the area on alert. The plane is reportedly a general aviation, propeller aircraft and not a commercial jet. CNN is reporting that the F-15 pilots observed that the plane's windows have fogged or iced over.
The plane, which ABC reports has a tail number of N48DL, filed a flight plan that would take it from Slidell, La. to Sarasota, Fla. According to FlightAware, the plane is a Cessna 421. Its flight path shows it flying normally until it begins going in a series of circles near the midpoint of its planned flight path.
The path of the plane was captured by FlightAware:
FlightAware says that the plane is registered to Lee H Aviation in Wilmington, Del.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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