Small Plane Crashes Into Gulf; Lost Pilot Contact

The Coast Guard says a small plane that two F-15 fighter jets were tracking for hours has crashed into the Gulf of Mexico.

North American Aerospace Defense Command spokesman John Cornelio said two NORAD jets caught up with the aircraft at 8:45 a.m. Eastern time Thursday and were flying with it and monitoring it. He said they hadn't been able to make contact with the pilot.

Petty Officer Elizabeth Boderland says the plane crashed about 120 miles west of Tampa, Fla., at about 12:10 p.m. Eastern.

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen says the plane was flying from Slidell, La., to Sarasota, Fla. She says one person is on board and that the FAA had been tracking the plane since it lost contact with the pilot at 9 a.m.

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