VENICE, Fla. (WFLA) — Two men died after their plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday night.
Authorities said the plane crashed about a half-mile off the Venice Fishing Pier around 10:00 p.m. Investigators said the plane went down after taking off from Venice Municipal Airport.
The bodies of two men in their 50s or 60s were recovered Wednesday. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said they were the only people aboard the plane at the time of the crash.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), along with Venice Fire Rescue and the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, is investigating the crash.
The runway at Venice Municipal Airport can be disorienting at night, according to a pilot who spoke to News Channel 8 following a fatal crash at the airport just months ago. In Dec. 2022, a small plane went down in the Gulf of Mexico seconds after taking off from Venice Airport, killing a family of three.
“You don’t have any way of your brain knowing what’s up or down because you can’t see the horizon,” pilot Jerrid Velte said in Dec. 2022. “There’s no boat lights underneath you. There’s no city lights.”
Preliminary findings from the National Transportation Safety Board investigation of the incident show the plane only reached about 75 feet in altitude before splashing down in the Gulf 16 seconds after takeoff. The pilot was Christian Kath, 42, of St. Petersburg.
Also aboard the aircraft were Kath’s wife, Misty, and their 12-year-old daughter, Lily. Kath’s body was never recovered.