St. Petersburg Plane Crash: Cessna 150 crashes in Pinellas Bayway

7:28 PM, Dec 27, 2013   |    comments
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Boca Ciega, Florida -- "Feeling awfully lucky -- said some prayers on the way down," says Tom Beaman the pilot.

Beaman swam away from his sunken Cessna Friday with nothing more than a 6-inch long gash to his forehead.

"It's the first time in 43 years anything has happened," he says.

It's that experience and training that may have helped save his life.

Beaman left Albert Whitted Airport around 1 o'clock Friday afternoon for a quick fly on his Cessna 150. He was about five miles out flying over Seminole when he says "the engine quit suddenly".

He picked Boca Ciega Bay as his landing strip.

"I grabbed a life jacket before I hit and set it on the seat. Really uneventful, nothing dramatic happened. [I] just got out and swam away," recalls Beaman.

Uneventful for him maybe, but it's unforgettable for a group having a business lunch at the Isla Del Sol Yacht and Country Club.

"I looked up over the Bay, I said, 'look like's he's trying to land very controlled,'" says Alan Skipper.

John Dunn, president of Isla Del Sol Yacht and Country Club, also witnessed the crash.

"It was a beautiful landing and then he flipped."

"He flipped end over end, then I saw the door open and a head come out," adds Dunn's wife Nancy.

Skipper says the plane sank within minutes of Beaman surfacing. He says, "The whole plane went under water within two minutes just gone."

The plane landed about 100 yards west of the Isla Del Sol Marina and sat upside down at the bottom of the channel.

Experience prepared Beaman for the crash landing but not the impact.

"It was more violent than I imagined," says Beaman.

After two boaters pulled Beaman out of the water, he called his wife and told her simply, "I crashed the plane".

"I'm just glad he's alive," says Diane Beaman.

But will she allow her husband to fly again?

"Not anytime soon."

Beaman tells 10 News he plans to fly again but first he'll need to get another plane. The FAA is investigating the crash.

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