Small plane crashes in Tampa Bay; no injuries


A small plane crashed into the water at Albert Whitted Airport in St. Petersburg just after 2 p.m. Sunday.

The pilot, 36-year-old Robert Gilchrist, managed to get out of the cockpit unharmed after it entered the water.

He remained sitting on top of the plane until the Coast Guard arrived to rescue him.

Gilchrist was the only one on board the plane.

Witnesses say they heard the engine sputter and dive into the water.

The plane is submerged 300 to 400 yards southeast of the Coast Guard Base at Bayboro Harbor.

The pilot told officers he had just picked up an advertising banner at the airport and was starting to climb when he started having engine failure and was forced to ditch the plane into the water.

The plane, a 1951 Cessna L19 “Bird Dog,” is owned by Advertising Air Force.

St. Pete Police and the FAA are investigating.