The plane, described in a regional Florida Today report as a single-engine TBM Avenger, was a part of the fleet for the Cocoa Beach Air Show on Saturday when the pilot made an emergency ocean landing near Patrick Space Force Base. Viral footage of the incident shows the plane bagging a soft landing in the ocean, with witnesses seen in the video on the beach and in the water.
One witness, who also captured video of the emergency landing, told the publication that she first noticed the pilot “sputtering down the beach” before he seemingly pulled up at the last second to avoid spectators.
“There were loads of people on the water, and then I saw him on top of the plane,” the witness, identified as Melanie Schrader, said. “It looked like he was OK.”
“The TBM Avenger performing in the warbird parade had a mechanical issue and the pilot was able to bring the plane down close to the shore,” a rep for the Cocoa Beach Air Show said in a statement shared to Facebook. “Rescue personnel were immediately on scene and the pilot is okay.”
in a separate statement on Sunday, a spokesperson for Valiant Air Command, Inc.—an educational organization dedicated to the preservation of warbirds—confirmed that the pilot was “fine” after the landing. The plane, however, may take years to be rebuilt.
“This morning, we have help from US Coast Guard, the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, Patrick Space Force Base Operations, Sea Tow Inc., Rice Towing, and various members from the museum, including Tom Reilly, Joe Cross, Leigh Lewis, Tracey Bohrmann, Tom Etter, Richard Jones, and many other members of the Valiant Air Command’s volunteer team,” the spokesperson added.
The Cocoa Beach Air Show, as well as its accompanying livestream, took place on April 17 and 18. This year’s show marked the first time since 2012 that it had taken place at the Space Coast.