TREASURE ISLAND (WFLA) — A small plane was forced to make an emergency landing on a beach in Treasure Island Sunday morning after just 20 minutes in the air.
The pilot, Jenna Dunay, said she was over water when the engine died. She said because she wasn’t going to make it back to Albert Whitted Airport, she had to land on the beach.
Dunay said she was in the plane with a student, who was flying at first. Once the engine stopped she quickly took over.
She was forced to land the plane behind the Bilmar Resort in Treasure Island. The pilot said she clipped a plastic pole with one of the wings while trying to avoid people on the sand.
“I don’t think I had time to be nervous,” Dunay said. “I just picked a part of the beach with the fewest amount of people, wide enough to where even if there were people we could avoid them.”
Dunay said Piper Archer Plane was a rental at Saint Pete Air. She had just taken off from Albert Whitted Airport 24 minutes prior to landing.
Dunay has been flying planes since 2017, and has been an instructor a little more than a year. She’s thankful, knowing it could have ended differently.
Both she and the student walked away without a scratch.
“I’m glad the sand was packed down well so it made for a better landing then if it was soft sand, so could’ve been worse but could’ve been better,” Dunay said. “It was muscle memory, didn’t need to look at the checklist, just ran through every possible thing and that’s all you can do.”
The footage above shows the plane just as it touches down on the sand. You can hear it make a loud ‘thump’ and see it wobble a little before the pilot regains control.
Trevor Thompson, who captured the video, posted on Facebook:
“What the… Taking a peaceful walk down the beach and a plane is coming right at me. I don’t think this was planned.”
Treasure Island Fire Rescue turned scene over to TIPD for security and investigation by FAA.