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Second World War plane goes down in ocean during Florida airshow

Gustaf Kilander
·3-min read
A World War II-era plane crash-landed during an air show on a Florida beach (Melanie Schrader)
A World War II-era plane crash-landed during an air show on a Florida beach (Melanie Schrader)

A plane from the Second World War crash-landed in the ocean during an airshow in Florida on Saturday.

The plane was part of the Cocoa Beach Air Show and made the emergency landing close to Patrick Space Force Base southeast of Orlando.

Officials said there were no injuries during the incident. Videos posted to social media show the plane, a single-engine TBM Avenger, make a "soft" landing in the shallow water.

Videos show the plane slowing down as it flies close to the surface of the water before the front propeller comes to a stop and it skids across the surface.

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Melanie Schrader, from Eau Gallie, told Florida Today: “He was sputtering down the beach and I was like, 'oh he doesn’t sound good’ and I just started filming."

She added: “It looked like [the pilot] pulled up at the last moment and avoided any spectators, there were loads of people on the water, and then I saw him on top of the plane. It looked like he was okay."

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Brevard County Fire Rescue officials said the pilot declined medical treatment after the landing. He was not identified.

Cocoa Beach Air Show officials said in a statement: "The TBM Avenger performing in the warbird parade had a mechanical issue and the pilot was able to bring the plane down close to the shore. Rescue personnel were immediately on scene and the pilot is okay."

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The TBM Avenger is a torpedo bomber used by the US Navy during the Second World War. The Cocoa Beach Air Show website said the plane had extensive restorations before it was used.

The plane was used by the Forestry Service as a fire bomber from 1956 to 1964 in Davis, California, according to Florida Today.

It was also used Georgia Forestry Commission fire bomber, according to the Valiant Air Command website.

The 1945 plane was restored over a period of 18 years at Valiant Air Command based in Titusville, returning to the skies in January 2020.

Air Show Chairman Bryan Lilley told Florida Today: "I saw a video of it — and it just made me think of what Sully did in the Hudson River."

Mr Lilley was referring to a 2009 emergency landing in New York City. All 155 passengers of US Airways Flight 1549 survived after pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger managed to land the plane in the river following a birdstrike which disabled both engines. The incident was later turned into a movie starring Tom Hanks as Sully.

Mr Lilley added: “It was incredible. What skill by that pilot."

Mr Lilley said the rest of the air show's schedule wouldn't be affected by the incident.

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