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BEEF ISLAND — The body of a pilot was pulled from the waters off Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport on Wednesday afternoon after his plane crashed in the sea during takeoff.
The pilot was the only person on board when the plane took off from the runway at the airport but quickly lost altitude and ended up in the sea near Trellis Bay, according to police and other officials.
“The plane didn’t overrun the runway it took off after reaching about three or four hundred feet in the air took a left turn then started losing lift and went into a dive straight into the water,” eyewitness Antoine Magras said on Facebook. “I witnessed it happen myself while at the beach.”
According to BVI News, Virgin Islands Search and Rescue member Phil Aspinall said police information suggested the pilot was an Angolan national with a United States passport.
Virgin Islands Search And Rescue (VISAR) received a call about the incident from the United States Coast Coast Guard at around 4:21 pm and arrived on the scene a little before 5:00 pm to find the Cesna C-150 in the water near the end of the runway, according to Aspinall. The pilot had already been pulled from the wreckage by “good Samaritan divers” who were on the scene and CPR was being administered.
Police confirmed minutes before 6:00 pm that the pilot had died, and what appeared to be a body bag was visible on the Trellis Bay dock that was being used to access the wreck.
The plane was headed to Pointe-à-Pitre International Airport in Guadeloupe at 4:17 pm and had six hours of fuel on board, according to the BVI Airports Authority.
“The BVIAA’s Rescue and Fire Fighting Service swiftly sprang into action and was able to quickly secure the pilot, the only occupant of the aircraft,” the authority said in a statement.