SARASOTA -- The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office is currently looking into a small plane crash site off Siesta Key.
The plane, reported to be a “replica” World War II bi-plane, landed on the beach after experiencing what the pilot said was engine problems. The pilot was identified as Earle F. Swan, 75, of Bradenton, and the passenger was Martin S. Thomas, 51, of Cape Coral, according to Sarasota deputies.
The crash occurred in the rear of 7900 block of Sanderling Road, and both occupants are out of the plane and reporting only minor injuries, according to a report.
The Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport received the mayday call and reported it to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Public Safety Communications Center. Deputies were en route to the crash site as of 12:15 p.m.
Valerie Vargas, who is on vacation from New Jersey, said she saw the red plane heading towards her at the Siesta Dunes at 6200 Midnight Pass Road. It started to sputter and rock back and forth before regaining control and gliding down towards Siesta Key beach around noon.
"It changed direction and slowly glided down towards the ocean over some homes," she said in an email. "We heard sirens shortly after."
Deputies of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office said they notified the Federal Aviation Administration about the incident and that a representative from the Flight Standards District Office is en route.