Spike in Emergency Plane Landings Near Davis Island

By Ella Malmgren

On Nov. 14, two passengers were rescued after their plane crashed in Hillsborough Bay near Davis Island. Both passengers were recovered quickly by Emergency Services and were uninjured. 

The pilot was attempting to land at the Peter O. Knight airport, according to the Tampa Police Department, and crashed shortly after 10 a.m. After the crash, the Cherokee 180 plane was completely submerged. Now it has been towed by Tampa PD and sent to Jacksonville.

This has not been the sole plane mishap in the Tampa Bay area recently. According to WTSP, there have been at least four crashes or emergency landings this past month.

Less than 24 hours after the Nov. 14 incident, Genesah Duffy, chief pilot and senior director of flight operations for Icon Aircraft, rescued two men after their plane went down near Davis Island. She heard an alert on her radio and spotted a yellow life jacket from 200 ft. above the water. Duffy provided help to the men until a Tampa Police rescue boat came and was able to take over. 

Another incident occurred on Nov. 4, when a small plane had to make an emergency landing on the grass median of Bruce B. Downs Boulevard near Interstate 75. Neither the pilot nor the drivers on the road were injured. Investigators believe the cause of the emergency landing was due to possible engine failure. 

On Nov. 9, another small plane made an emergency landing in Sarasota Bay. The pilot reportedly lost control of the throttle and felt that he needed to quickly land the plane. He was rescued, uninjured, by Manatee County Emergency Services. 

And more recently, on Nov.12, a Cherokee 180 made an emergency landing into Tampa Bay near Macdill Air Force Base. The Coast Guard launched a boat rescue, and swiftly saved the pilot, who was uninjured.

“The pilot was able to use the light on his cell phone to signal to us where he was, which made finding him quicker. A lot of others arrived on-scene about the same time as us,” said Steven Hava, the boat crew coxswain, in a press release.

The increase in plane mishaps and emergency landings has concerned the members of the Tampa community. Although these incidents haven’t resulted in any injuries, there have been close calls, especially with the emergency landing on a median.

Some of the replies to Tampa PD’s plane crash update read, “Why does it seem like so many more planes are falling from the sky now? What’s up?” and “Seems like we’ve had a few of these over the past week.”

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), provides a Lessons Learned From Civil Aviation Accidents Library on their website, in order “to capture information related to selected accidents that contain key safety information, including resulting actions that have been taken in order to continue improving the safety of small airplanes.” 

This collection of plane accident descriptions allows pilots to research the most common mishaps and how to solve and prevent them. 

Peter O. Knight airport is a popular spot for pilots in the community, and these close calls may lead them to take extra precautions. 

So far, the airport itself hasn’t given a statement addressing the spike in emergency landings. 

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