No longer a ‘rescue’ — Cape May plane crash now a ‘recovery’
CAPE MAY POINT — Following the crash of a small plane just off of the beach before noon today, State Police said responders' effort no longer is considered a "rescue" operation of the missing pilot, but instead a "recovery" operation.
State Police responded to a call about the single-engine aircraft, identified as a Mooney M20J, crashing in the water. By helicopter, a fuel slick and aircraft debris were seen.
Using sonar, troopers with the State Police Marine Services Bureau located the plane in about 18 feet of water. As of 4:30 p.m., State Police patrol boats with dive team troopers along with members of the U.S. Coast Guard still were out working to recover the aircraft.
The Federal Aviation Administration has said one person was known to be on board the aircraft when it departed Trenton-Robbinsville Airport in Robbinsville about 8 a.m. It wasn't clear if there were further passengers, authorities said.
The plane went down about 1,200 feet from the Cape May Lighthouse, according to the FAA.
The identity of the pilot has not been confirmed as of late Wednesday afternoon, State Police said.
Coast Guard members continued their efforts around 6 p.m., while being ready to pull back amid any troublesome weather as dive team troopers were coordinating around strong currents to examine the submerged wreckage.
Video posted to Instagram by Lauren Zuccarello from the beach at Wildwood Crest showed the low-flying plane, just above the waterline until the end of the clip:
The plane's owner, Lisa Campbell, who also operates Air-Mods Flight Training Center at the Trenton-Robbinsville airport, has said the male pilot was a recreational flier, according to the Associated Press.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will be investigating the crash, State Police said, while also adding there is no additional information available at this time.