ST. PETERSBURG, FL. - On December 3rd, a small plane carrying a family of three from St. Petersburg, Florida, crashed into the Gulf of Mexico just 16 seconds after takeoff. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released a preliminary report on the tragic incident at the Venice Municipal Airport.
The Piper PA28 aircraft had been on a flight from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Venice Municipal Airport. They were returning to St. Petersburg when the crash occurred.
The report states that the plane took off at 7:37 p.m., about 900 feet from the end of the 5,000-foot Venice runway, and was traveling at a speed of around 101 miles per hour.
As the plane climbed 50 feet above the ground, it accelerated to about 104 mph. Data from the plane shows that over the next four seconds, the aircraft reached an altitude of 75 feet and a speed of 108 mph.
However, the report also states that the plane had "little to no angle of climb," and it descended, hitting the water at a speed of around 125 mph, just 16 seconds after takeoff. The plane traveled 1,800 feet beyond the departure end of the runway before entering the Gulf of Mexico.
The pilot, Christian Kath, 42, and his passengers, Misty Kath, 43, and their daughter, Lily, 12, were all killed in the crash. The report does not list a cause for the crash. The weather conditions at the time of the crash were dark, with winds blowing at less than 10 mph and visibility recorded at 7 miles.
According to the report, Christian Kath had 74.2 total hours of flight experience, with 67.6 hours in the same make and model as the aircraft that crashed.
He received his private pilot certificate on July 31st, 2022, and had logged 13.2 hours since then. The plane was built in 1976 and was most recently inspected on November 2nd.
Most of the plane's wreckage was recovered from the floor of the Gulf, about 15 feet deep, by local emergency services and a commercial ocean salvage operator. The NTSB continues investigating the cause of the crash and will release a final report later.
The tragic incident serves as a reminder of the risks associated with flying and the importance of proper training and maintenance of aircraft. The NTSB's final report will provide more insight into the cause of the crash, and the information will be used to prevent similar incidents in the future. The families and friends of the victims are in our thoughts during this difficult time.
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