Monday, April 28, 2014

Aero Adventure AVENTURA II, N543MG: Incident occurred April 27, 2014 in Charlotte Harbor, Punta Gorda, Florida



The FAA is still trying to figure out what caused an experimental aircraft to go down in the Charlotte Harbor Sunday afternoon.

Luckily, the one man inside the plane made it out safely, but getting the aircraft to shore was a different story.

A tow company was able to finally bring the plane back to dry land at the Burnt Store Marina. The whole mission took more than four hours, but everyone we spoke with say the hard work was well worth it. They’re just glad this didn't end in tragedy.

“It was a little unbelievable to see something like that. You just don't see a plane fly by one minute and the next minute it's down in the water,” said Jim Harding, who saw the plane go down.

Harding thought he was heading out for a regular Sunday fishing trip at the Burnt Store Marina --but it's not the manatees or the tarpon he'll remember...

“It was a really colorful plane. It looked like a big lure in the water. Haha...because we had our fishing boats, that's what I thought of,” Harding said.

“I looked over, and the boat was just sitting there, half submerged,” said Captain Nick Sanguedolce, who towed the boat to shore.

Sanguedolce with Towboat US was the one who helped get the boat back to solid ground.

Earlier Monday, he took us two miles out from the marina to show us where the plane landed.

“We got right next to it. We anchored out boat. We dropped our pumps in. Got the flotation ready,” said Sanguedolce.

Sanguedolce said it took about four hours because they actually had to drain some of the water off the plane first and then tow it two miles to the marina. But there was one thing that made the whole thing just a little bit easier

“Any time we can do anything like that and stand on the ground it's always a lot easier than trying to tow the thing upside down or drag it through the water,” Sanguedolce.

First responders told us the pilot was able to walk away from the crash without getting hurt.

Captain Nick has seen two other plane rescues in his almost three decades on the water -- and says they don't always have a happy ending.

“It's very lucky, you know? An airplane falling from the sky and you can tell the story? That's pretty incredible,” he said.

We tracked down the registered owner of the boat. She lives in Illinois and told me she sold the boat to a man by the name of Jack Keyworth from Port Charlotte. We’re working to get in touch with Keyworth to hear how he was able to survive such an ordeal.

In the meantime, the FAA tells us they still don't know why the plane went down in the first place and their investigation will continue until they can figure out some answers.

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