The Federal Aviation Administration said preliminary information indicates only the pilot was aboard the Cessna Citation V, which flew out of St. Louis Regional Airport in East Alton Illinois about 1:35 p.m. Friday and was destined for Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport.
FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – A small aircraft heading to South Florida crashed into the Atlantic Ocean on Friday evening, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
Video: Small Plane Headed To Fort Lauderdale Crashes Into Ocean
The condition of the pilot is unclear, but the FAA said U.S. Air Force F-15 fighter jets from the Florida Air National Guard intercepted, or spotted the aircraft and flew alongside it, before it went down. The Florida Air National Guard is based at Homestead Air Reserve Base.
The aircraft was out of communication with air traffic controllers for more than one hour before it crashed, the FAA said in a statement. FAA air traffic controllers tracked the flight on radar during that time.
The FAA referred a reporters questions about the pilots condition to the U.S. Coast Guard. A spokesman for the Coast Guards southeast district said crews were responding to a call of a downed aircraft but did not disclose further details.
According to the FAA, the aircraft had been out of communication with air traffic control for more than an hour before it went into the ocean.
A Cessna plane bound for Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport crashed Friday evening more than 300 miles off the coast of Florida after air traffic controllers lost communication with the plane and fighter jets were sent to investigate, the authorities said.
The pilot of the Cessna Citation V is believed to be the only person who was on the plane, the Federal Aviation Administration said. The F.A.A. said air traffic controllers had been unable to communicate with the plane, which left from St. Louis Regional Airport in East Alton, Ill. around 3:30 p.m., for more than one hour.
Around 4:50 p.m., the Florida Air National Guard sent two F-15s from the Homestead Air Reserve Base to investigate the unresponsive plane, which was not on its designated flight path, said Maj. Mark R. Lazane, a spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command, also known as Norad.
The fighter jets approached the Cessna, after which the Cessna began rapidly descending and subsequently crashed into the Atlantic Ocean around 6 p.m.
The intent of military intercepts is to have the identified aircraft re-establish communications with local F.A.A. air traffic controllers and instruct the pilot to follow air traffic controller directions to land safely for follow-on action, Major Lazane said in a statement.
Major Lazane said that Norad had conducted more than 1,900 intercepts of nonmilitary aircraft since Sept. 11, when Norad ramped up air defenses.