TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Two people are safe after Tampa police say the plane they were in had to make an emergency landing in Hillsborough Bay, just off the coast of Davis Island.
According to the Tampa Police Department, calls came in just after 10 a.m. Monday for a plane down in the water just 500 yards southwest of the Peter O. Knight Airport.
A TPD Marine Unit responded to the site of the splashdown and rescued one of the plane’s occupants. Another person was rescued by a seaplane that saw the emergency landing, police say.
Genesah Duffy is a Navy veteran and was piloting the seaplane. Duffy said she just happened to be three nautical miles from Peter O. Knight airport when she heard the problem developing over her radio.
“I hear over the radio for Peter O. Knight airport that a Mooney went down in the water, so I verified they are in the water? They landed in the water?” she said.
So she flew to the area to help.
“As I was over flying, I saw the plane already in the water and then I saw the inflated life vests of one of the passengers who was already out of the water already. I circled one more time to see if there was anybody else. I noticed that it was just that group of people together and so I decided to land to see if I could help,” she said.
When she landed, she could see one of the plane occupants was starting to struggle in the water without a life jacket.
*THE VIDEO BELOW SHOWS GENESAH DUFFY’S SEAPLANE HELPING WITH THE RESCUE FOLLOWING THE EMERGENCY LANDING.*
“I landed and then I kind of taxied up to them and they kind of grabbed onto the airplane. One of them didn’t have a life vest and I noticed he was already kind of tired so I went half into the water and half out and I put the life vest on him and inflated it,” Duffy said.
“Both of (men in the plane) were uninjured and they are safe, both of them feel very, very lucky to be alive,” said Sandra Bentil, spokesperson for TPD.
Bentil said the pilot reported having engine issues leading up to the emergency landing.
Police say the plane was coming from the Gainesville area.
TPD is now working with the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board to get the submerged plane out of the water and back on land. An investigation is ongoing.
The Tampa Bay area has experienced several small plane crashes and emergency landings within the past two weeks. On Nov. 4, a pilot experienced a loss of power and had to land on Bruce B Downs Boulevard. Five days later, a pilot reported a lack of throttle control and had to make a landing in Sarasota Bay. Then on Nov. 12, a pilot splashed down in front of U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents off Cedar Key.
Thankfully, all incidents so far have resulted in no injuries.