Pilot survives plane crash in Boca Ciega Bay - WFLA News Channel 8

Pilot survives plane crash in Boca Ciega Bay

Posted: Updated:
This photo of the downed plane was taken from Eagle 8. This photo of the downed plane was taken from Eagle 8.
The pilot, Tom Beaman, was in an ambulance with emergency medical technicians after the crash The pilot, Tom Beaman, was in an ambulance with emergency medical technicians after the crash
Pilot Tom Beaman, survived crash Pilot Tom Beaman, survived crash
PINELLAS COUNTY, FL - An afternoon sightseeing flight over Pinellas county ended with an emergency landing in the water behind the Isla Del Sol Yacht and Country Club. 

The pilot, Dr. Tom Beaman, 61, of Clearwater, put into practice what he learned as a student 43 years ago.

"I didn't think I was gonna make it. Then the engine just quits suddenly.  But I was flying back over Boca Ciega just in case. And so I had to go down there. In Boca Ciega," said Beaman.

He hit the water at about 40 miles an hour, downwind, which is not ideal.  On the way down, he said some prayers, grabbed a life jacket and set it on the seat.

The small Cessna 150 flipped onto its top and sank.

"Tried to slow it down as much as I possibly could. But it still was a lot more violent than I would have imagined," Beaman said.

Some nearby boaters pulled Beaman out of the water.

"So it was really uneventful though. Nothing dramatic. Just got out and swam away," said Beaman after his rescue, while still wearing his soaked clothes.

The standard procedure for a "water ditch" is to take a folded coat or jacket, place it over the instrument panel to shield yourself from the impact and just before you hit.  Beaman says you should also put your shoe in the door so the cockpit fills with water quickly, and you can get out.

"First time in 43 years that anything's happened," said Beaman.  "You're incredulous first. (I got) a little bump but I feel good.  Really I'm fine. Just lost the plane."

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