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Small plane strays over Gulf of Mexico, crashes off Florida

April 19, 2012|By Rene Lynch
  • This radar image released by FlightAware.com shows the flight path (green line) of a Cessna 421 twin-engine plane over the Gulf of Mexico.
This radar image released by FlightAware.com shows the flight path (green… (AFP/FlightAware.com )

A small aircraft has crashed off Florida after it was seen aimlessly circling the Gulf of Mexico and repeated attempts by authorities to make contact with the pilot failed.

At one point, military aircraft were called in for a possible attempt to intercept the troubled plane to protect public safety. The fate of the pilot -- the only person on board -- remains unclear.

But there were some suggestions that the plane hit the water "gracefully," according to CNN commentators who were watching the dramatic situation unfold live.

Such a landing could be due to sheer luck or could indicate the pilot still had some control over the aircraft.

Contact with the pilot at the controls of the Cessna were lost earlier Thursday  morning, spurring fears that the pilot had somehow become incapacitated. ABC News reported that the plane took off from Slidell, La., and was en route to Sarasota, Fla., according to its flight plan. But the plane never reached its destination. It is believed the plane ran out of fuel before crashing.

ABC confirmed that officials at NORAD had launched two F-15 fighter aircraft to intercept the general aircraft if needed. The Coast Guard was en route to the crash scene.

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