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Sunday, May 20, 2018
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Plane ditches in water off of Albert Whitted Airport

A plane was ditched in Tampa Bay this afternoon and the pilot was able to safely get out of the aircraft.

About 2:06 p.m., a 1951 Cessna L19 “Bird Dog” owned by Advertising Air Force put down in the water, about 300 to 400 yards southeast of the Coast Guard Base at Bayboro Harbor, according to St. Petersburg police.

The pilot, Robert L. Gilchrist, 36, an employee of the Advertising Air Force, was the only occupant of the plane and managed to get out of the cockpit before the plane sank, police said. He was sitting on top of the aircraft when the Coast Guard arrived, and appears to be uninjured.

Gilchrist told police he had just picked up an advertising banner at the airport and was starting to climb when he began to experience engine failure and was forced to ditch the plane in to the water.

The plane remains underwater and preparations for recovery are ongoing police said. The FAA has been notified and will be the investigating agency.

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