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Small Plane Crashes Into Tampa Bay

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(JOEL NITO/AFP/Getty Images)

(JOEL NITO/AFP/Getty Images)

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ST. PETERSBURG (CBSMiami/AP) — It was a close call for a pilot who crashed his small plane into the waters of Tampa Bay on Sunday but safely escaped.

The plane ditched into the water Sunday at around 2:00 p.m. about 300 to 400 feet southeast of the Coast Guard base at Bayboro Harbor.

The pilot was flying a 1951 Cessna L19 “Bird Dog” owned by Advertising Air Force and managed to evacuate from the cockpit after it entered the water. The St. Petersburg Police Department says Robert Gilchrist sat on top of the plane until a rescue team arrived.

Authorities say he appears uninjured.

Gilchrist told officers he had just picked up an advertising banner at the airport and was starting to climb when he began to experience engine failure.

The plane remains submerged and preparations for recovery are ongoing.

TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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