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(Tribune News Service) — A pilot of a small plane was rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard after crashing into Tampa Bay off St. Petersburg on Friday night.

The crash happened about 3 miles south of MacDill Air Force Base around 6:30 p.m., the Coast Guard said in a news release.

Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg received a call from Pinellas County Fire Rescue that the Cherokee 180 plane went down. A Coast Guard patrol boat went to the scene and rescued the pilot, who has not been named, from the water.

The pilot was able to signal the approaching Coast Guard crew with the flashlight on his cellphone, which enabled them to locate him quicker, Petty Officer 2nd Class Steven Hava, the boat crew’s coxswain, said.

“There was a lot of communication and inter-agency cooperation,” Hava said.

The pilot’s condition was not immediately known.

As of late Friday night, the plane was still submerged in the water. The owner will work with a salvage company to remove the aircraft, the news release states. A hazard to navigation notice to mariners is being broadcast on VHF radio Channel 16.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

(c)2021 the Florida Keys Keynoter (Marathon, Fla.)

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Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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