Sunday, April 11, 2021

Grumman TBM-3E Avenger, N108Q: Incident occurred April 17, 2021 in Cocoa Beach, Brevard County, Florida

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Orlando, Florida

Aircraft declared an emergency due to engine issues and landed in the water.

Valiant Air Command

Date: 17-APR-21
Time: 17:21:00Z
Regis#: N108Q
Aircraft Make: GRUMMAN
Aircraft Model: TBM-3
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: AIR SHOW
Flight Phase: EN ROUTE (ENR)
Operation: 91

Valiant Air Command, the group that owns the Grumman TBM-3E Avenger that splash-landed off Patrick Space Force Base on Saturday, is planning to move the aircraft back to its museum.

The move came a day after workers using a large crane hoisted the intact aircraft out of the tide and onto a waiting tow late Sunday.

By Monday morning, the aircraft — which sat under guard at Patrick Space Force Base — was set to be taken back to its Titusville home for what could be years of repairs. 

The exact route back to the museum was not immediately known.

The plane, which was taking part in the Cocoa Beach Air Show, made an emergency landing in the ocean as dozens of stunned beachgoers watched it glide over the waves before splashing down.

The unnamed pilot, seen stepping out of the cockpit moments after guiding the aircraft into the shallow water, was not injured.

“Most of you know that our TBM Avenger was forced to land due to engine failure. The good news is that the pilot is fine. The not-so-good news is that it may take several years to rebuild the Avenger,” Valiant Air Command said in a statement posted to Facebook on Sunday.

The aircraft remained partially embedded in the sandy shoreline Sunday. The group is asking for donations to go toward repairing the saltwater-logged aircraft or have it become a display item at the Warbird Air Museum in Titusville.

Sunday morning, officials from Valiant Air Command, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Patrick Space Force Base, the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office and a towing company discussed plans to remove the aircraft safely. 

“ We are thankful that our pilot walked away unscathed from the incident. We are also thankful for all of your comments of support you have sent us,” Valiant Air Command's Facebook post said.

A World War II-era plane taking part in the Cocoa Beach Air Show made an emergency in the waters just off the Patrick Space Force Base beaches on Saturday afternoon.

No one was injured, emergency officials said.  

A video posted to Twitter on Saturday afternoon showed the single-engine TBM Avenger make a "soft" landing in the shallow waters near Cocoa Beach. In the footage, the plane descends low in a controlled fashion before coming to a skidding halt in the water, sending up spray and foam. 

In another video captured by Melanie Schrader of Eau Gallie, the plane's single propeller can be seen not spinning as it glides toward the shallow waters. Dozens of people in the water look up as it passes close overhead and bystanders express shock as they watch the small aircraft make its descent. 

No one was struck as the plane landed safely on the surface of the water. 

“He was sputtering down the beach and was like oh he doesn’t sound good and just started filming," Schrader said.

“It looked like (the pilot) pulled up at the last moment and avoided any spectators, there were loads of people on the water, and then I saw him on top of the plane, it looked like he was okay," she added. 

The pilot reportedly declined medical treatment after the incident, according to Brevard County Fire Rescue. 

According to a statement from the Cocoa Beach Air Show, "The TBM Avenger performing in the warbird parade had a mechanical issue and the pilot was able to bring the plane down close to the shore. Rescue Personnel were immediately on scene and the pilot is okay." 

The TBM Avenger is a torpedo bomber that was used by the U.S. Navy during World War II. According to the Cocoa Beach Air Show website, the plane underwent extensive restoration before being returned to flight last year. 

"On January 11th, 2020 she returned to skies for the first time in several years a testament to the hard work and dedication of the VAC’s skilled restoration volunteers," the website reads. 

Thousands of people could be seen along Cocoa Beach and roadways were densely packed Saturday as spectators traveled from all over to see the air show. The aircraft could be seen executing complicated maneuvers in the skies over Cocoa Beach throughout Saturday afternoon. 

No further complications were reported in connection with the air show. 

The Cocoa Beach Air Show will also feature the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team. Other military aircraft include a B-1 Lancer stealth bomber, B-52 Stratofortress bomber, A-10C "Warthog" Thunderbolt II, C-17 GlobeMaster III and a Valiant Air Command warbird parade.

Opening ceremonies start Saturday and Sunday at 11:30 a.m., and flight performances take place from noon to 2:30 p.m. The Thunderbirds will headline both shows from 2:30 to 3:15 p.m. 

Admission is free along the Cocoa Beach oceanfront, with Lori Wilson Park serving as the geographic "show center." Aircraft will fly along about 2 miles of shoreline, extending from Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier to Minutemen Causeway.

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