U.S. Plane With Unresponsive Pilot Crashes Off Jamaica, Official Says
CBS News – A spokesman for the Jamaican military said a private U.S. plane with an unresponsive pilot crashed into the ocean north of the Caribbean island Friday after a journey of more than 1,700 miles.
Maj. Basil Jarrett of the Jamaican Defense Force confirmed to CBS News that the plane went down Friday about 14 miles northeast of Port Antonio. Jarrett says the military has sent two helicopters to the site as well as search and rescue teams and a fixed wing aircraft to investigate.
“We can confirm that the plane has gone down,” he said. There was no immediate information about the people on board.
The plane took off at 8:45 a.m. EDT from the Greater Rochester International Airport in New York, according to local officials. Air traffic controllers were last able to contact the pilot of the Socata TBM700, a high performance single-engine turboprop, at 10 a.m. EDT, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement.
A prominent real estate developer and his wife were aboard the plane. Rick Glazer said Friday that his parents, Larry and Jane Glazer, were both licensed pilots. He said he can’t confirm they were killed, saying, “we know so little.”
The pilot, who was not identified, had filed a flight plan with the FAA to fly from Rochester to Naples, Florida. Fighter jets were scrambled at 11:30 a.m. EDT and followed the plane until it reached Cuban airspace, when they peeled off, said Preston Schlachter, a spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command & US Northern Command. FlightAware, an aviation tracking website, showed the plane over the Caribbean south of Cuba at about 2 p.m. EDT.
CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports that the fighters who responded to the unresponsive plane initially saw the pilot slumped over. But then the cockpit windows frosted over — signs of cabin decompression and hypoxia.
FlightAware identified the plane’s tail number as N900KN. FAA records show the plane is owned by a company based at the same address as a real estate firm in Rochester. The firm, Buckingham Properties, is owned by Glazer, who also is president of the TBM Owners and Pilots Association.
According to Buckingham’s website, “Larry spends some of his spare time on the ground – gardening around his house with his wife, Jane; and some in the sky – flying his plane.”
The Air Force and Transportation Security Administration contacted Rochester airport officials about the plane at about 10:45 a.m., according to Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks. The airport referred all inquiries to the Federal Aviation Administration.
The incident is the second time in less than a week that private pilot has become unresponsive during a flight. On Saturday, a pilot lost consciousness and his plane drifted into restricted airspace over the nation’s capital. Fighter jets were also launched in that case and stayed with the small aircraft until it ran out of fuel and crashed Saturday into the Atlantic.