Tampa Police officers on aerial patrol made an emergency landing to save a pilot after he crashed his plane at Tampa International Airport.
TPD officers Dave Dennison and Brian Gentry were patrolling in the department's helicopter late Thursday night when they heard a distress call from the pilot just before midnight Thursday.Pilot Mark E. Love, 58, said there was a low engine oil light warning, according to a TIA spokesperson.
Love can be heard on a recorded radio call reporting the problem to the tower as he tells an air traffic controller, "I've lost oil pressure."
The air traffic controller responds by asking, "You lost oil pressure? Say souls on board, fuel remaining?"
Love responds by saying he is the only person on the airplane and he has about three hours of fuel, or 50 gallons on board.
The small single engine Cessna 210N crashed just inside the airport property and the engine caught fire.The officers quickly landed their helicopter near the crash site and rushed over to put out the fire and help Love.
Tampa Police Pilot Dave Dennison says he hear the radio call by Love to the tower while he was flying over South Tampa on another police call.
"His voice was a little stressed. There seemed like he had a couple of things going on,” said Dennison.
At that time Dennison says he started flying toward T.I.A. And his flight operations officer picked up the Cessna on a night vision camera mounted on the front of their helicopter.
Dennison and the other officer, Brian Gentry, then watched as the Cessna crashed short of the runway.
"When we came in, we noticed there was a little post crash fire. We knew the pilot hadn't exited the aircraft,” said Dennison.
Despite the fire, Gentry ran to the plane to help Love.
"It's just part of the job. It's nothing that a thousand other officers every day for T.P.D. do for an automobile crash. We were just fortunate enough to have a video running and it was something as unique as an aircraft,” said Gentry.
Gentry also downplayed the danger of an explosion.
"A lot of that seems to be sensationalized from Hollywood,” said Gentry.
Still, both Gentry and Dennison realize their actions are not part of their normal routine.
"Especially close to Christmas time like this, we're proud and we feel very accomplished that we were able to provide a service that normally isn't part of our duty. Part of our duties, is usually assisting patrol, chasing bad guys, locating people that are missing, all that. We don't normally get to take the first responder action in the way we did last night,” said Dennison.
Mark Love was rushed to the hospital with critical injuries, according to O'Connor.
The plane will remain onsite until the NTSB arrives Friday morning to investigate what went wrong.
Tampa International Airport Spokeswoman Christine Osborn says the aircraft belongs to Flight Express, Inc.