Authorities on the island of Jamaica prepared Saturday to resume the search for the mysterious private plane that lost contact with ground controllers on a flight from New York to Florida and crashed about 14 miles northeast of the Caribbean island.
The plane was carrying a prominent upstate New York couple.
A son of Rochester real estate developer Laurence Glazer and his entrepreneur wife, Jane, says he cannot confirm they were killed in the crash. But numerous public officials extended their condolences for a couple described as a linchpin in efforts to rejuvenate a city stung by the decline of corporate giants.
The Glazers were taken on a ghostly 1,700-mile journey after apparently becoming incapacitated. U.S. fighter pilots launched to shadow the unresponsive aircraft observed the pilot slumped over and its windows frosting over.
Early reports indicated there were three people on the plane. Authorities did not provide any information on who was aboard, but said Jamaica has dispatched a rescue team to the crash site. An oil slick had been spotted but there is no sign yet of any wreckage. Search and rescue teams are scouring the water for survivors.
A U.S. C-130 aircraft is also flying over the crash site and a U.S. Coast Guard cutter is on the way, according to Guard Petty Officer Jon-Paul Rios.
“None of us have found anything at this time,” Rios said Friday at about 4:40 p.m. ET.
FlightAware, an aviation tracking website, identified the plane’s tail number as N900KN. FAA records show the plane is owned by a company based at the same address as a real estate firm in Rochester. The firm, Buckingham Properties, is owned by developer Larry Glazer, who also is president of the TBM Owners and Pilots Association.
The plane took off at 8:45 a.m. EDT from the Greater Rochester International Airport in New York, according to local officials. Air traffic controllers were last able to contact the pilot of the Socata TBM700, a high performance single-engine turboprop, at 10 a.m. ET, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement.
The pilot, who was not identified, had filed a flight plan with the FAA to fly from Rochester to Naples, Florida. F-15 fighter jets were scrambled at 11:30 a.m. EDT and followed the plane until it reached Cuban airspace, when they peeled off, said Preston Schlachter, a spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command US Northern Command. FlightAware showed the plane over the Caribbean south of Cuba at about 2 p.m. EDT.
The plane reached the altitude of 25,000 feet, MyFoxTampaBay.com reported, and traveled more than 1,700 miles.
The Air Force and Transportation Security Administration contacted Rochester airport officials about the plane at about 10:45 a.m., according to Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks. The airport referred all inquiries to the Federal Aviation Administration.
The incident is the second time in less than a week that private pilot has become unresponsive during a flight. On Saturday, a pilot lost consciousness and his plane drifted into restricted airspace over the nation’s capital. Fighter jets were also launched in that case and stayed with the small aircraft until it ran out of fuel and crashed Saturday into the Atlantic.