WWII-era plane makes emergency ocean landing in Florida

A World War II-era fighter plane, the "Avenger."


Wild videos show a restored World War II-era plane making an emergency landing in the ocean — just feet from swimmers at a packed Florida beach.

Footage by WFTV showed beachgoers — including young children in the sea — staring calmly at the single-engine TBM Avenger as it flew toward them Saturday around 20 feet from the shore.

After a brief attempt to lift higher, the plane — part of the annual Cocoa Beach Air Show — eventually crashed down and splashed into the water.

“Oh my God,” one woman gasped in a clip shared on social media — as another beachgoer shouted, “Quick! Take a picture!”

No one was injured, and the pilot refused medical treatment, air show officials and the local fire department told Florida Today.

“I saw a video of it — and it just made me think of what Sully did in the Hudson River,” said Air Show Chairman Bryan Lilley, referring to Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger “Miracle on the Hudson” landing in 2009.

“It was incredible. What skill by that pilot,” Lilley told the Florida paper of Saturday’s emergency landing. “I’m very happy the pilot’s OK, but I’m really sorry that the aircraft ended up in the water.”

The pilot was able to make an emergency landing 20 feet from the shore, avoiding any beachgoers.

The plane — a torpedo bomber used by the U.S. Navy during World War II — had just undergone extensive restoration and crashed because of a mechanical issue, the Cocoa Beach Air Show said.

Witness Melanie Schrader told Florida Today that people realized something was wrong because they heard the plane “sputtering down the beach.”

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“And I was like, ‘oh he doesn’t sound good’ and I just started filming,” Schrader told the paper.

Cocoa Beach Air Show.
The WWII-era plane was part of the annual Cocoa Beach Air Show in Cocoa Beach, Florida.

“It looked like (the pilot) pulled up at the last moment and avoided any spectators,” Schrader said. “There were loads of people on the water, and then I saw him on top of the plane. It looked like he was OK,” she said.

The air show was scheduled to continue as normal on Sunday, Lilley told Florida Today.


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