Pilot’s mayday message: Passenger fell from plane off Florida coast

Posted at 2:59 PM, Nov 14, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-14 16:59:43-05
By John Branch and Catherine E. Shoichet


(CNN) — A pilot’s mayday distress call sent rescuers scrambling to an area near Miami on Thursday to search for a passenger who reportedly fell out of a small plane.

“He opened the back door and he just fall down the plane,” the pilot said, according to a recording of his conversation with air traffic controllers.

The pilot said he was flying at 1,800 feet about two miles from the shore when the man fell on Thursday afternoon.

Authorities did not release the pilot’s name or the identity of the man believed to be missing.

A police spokeswoman said it was unclear whether the man accidentally fell out of the plane or deliberately jumped.

The Piper PA-46 went on to land safely at Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

Investigators were questioning the pilot there as the search continued, and homicide detectives were on the way to the scene, Miami-Dade Police spokeswoman Sgt. Robin Pinkard said.

The pilot first told air traffic controllers that a door was open on the plane, then added that a passenger had fallen out.

“I have a door ajar,” he said, “and a passenger that fell down.”

CNN’s Mike M. Ahlers and Brian Rokus contributed to this report.

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