MIAMI(CBS4)—A South Florida pilot was forced to land his Cessna 172 on the sand of Miami Beach because it was “the safest place” he could find after a serious problem occurred.
“I’m not sure what happened. I am trying to find out. The plane kind of hesitated,” said the pilot Jafet Cordeiro.
Cordeiro told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “I was trying to find the safest place. I didn’t want to keep going and find out that something bad would happen. I saw an empty spot on the beach and so I cut power.”
Cordeiro said he was flying three passengers from Vero Beach to Tamiami Airport when he landed his plane behind the Arlen Beach condominium complex at 5701 Collins Ave. at 12:20 p.m.
His passengers told D’Oench that they didn’t realize there was an emergency.
“This was fantastic,” said passenger Edward Blasini of Miami. “We didn’t even realize we were in an emergency situation until we landed. This is kind of a bummer to have this happen but it is what it is. Praise God.”
Blasini said he thought the engine “just quit altogether.”
Another passenger, Martha Baptiste, said, “I just thank God with this pilot that we are safe. I didn’t know something was happening.”
It happened in an area where dozens of people were on the beach. They talked about what they observed moments before the plane landed.
“The plane was going down and it seemed to stop functioning and then over there it turned,” said Alejandro Mena. “It was pretty scary. I thought it might hit somebody.”
“We thought he was going to land in the water and then he landed in the sand,” said another witness, Ozmari Martin. “Of course he deserves a medal.”
“We saw the pilot go up and away and then he came down. This was incredible what he did,” said Carlos Da Cruz.
“I was at Collins Avenue and 63rd Street and then I saw him land safely,” said Kelly Savine, another witness. “I was impressed. He was a good pilot. Nobody was hurt.”
Cordeiro was seen speaking with federal investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration.
Miami Beach Police roped off the plane with yellow crime scene tape. It was not clear when the plane would be removed from the Beach.
Cordeiro said, “I feel sad this had to happen but I did what I had to do. In my mind I was worried about what might happen and a possible tragedy. I wanted to have a safe landing for this plane.”
Miami Beach Police Detective Vivian Thayer said, “It’s a blessing this pilot had such a safe landing, particularly in light of the tragedies over the weekend. To have someone land on the Beach is a huge concern here. When you hear about in on the radio, your first concern is how many injuries are there.”
“Fortunately,” said Thayer, “there were no injuries on the plane or on the beach.”
It was a different story this past weekend when a father and daughter were killed after a plane crash landed on a Florida beach over the weekend.