Jamaican officials say search teams have located an oil slick where a small plane carrying a prominent New York real estate developer and his wife crashed into the ocean Friday afternoon.
Search and rescue teams had not recovered the wreckage or any bodies, the Jamaican Information Service said via Twitter, but search efforts would continue into the night. Samples from the oil slick will be tested for confirmation, officials added.
The plane lost contact with air traffic controllers shortly after 10 a.m. Friday, a couple of hours before it was scheduled to land in Naples, Fla., and ended up hundreds of miles off course, FAA officials said.
According to a flight plan filed with the FAA, the plane was carrying two people.
Two American F-15 jets were trailing the plane as it coasted over the Atlantic, but had gone back to base to refuel when the plane crashed at about 2:15 p.m., the Federal Aviation Administration said.
U.S. Coast Guard ships have arrived on scene, about 14 miles north of Port Antonio, Jamaica, said Petty Officer Sabrina Laberdesque, and will be assisting with search efforts.
The single-engine turboprop plane, identified by the tail number N900KN, was en route from Rochester, N.Y., to Naples, where it was scheduled to land at 11:59 a.m., according to FlightAware.com, a flight-tracking website.
The plane, registered to a company with a Rochester address, was reportedly carrying prominent real estate developer Larry Glazer and his wife, Jane, both 68. Glazer, identified as the chief executive of Rochester-based real estate developer Buckingham Properties, reportedly bought the new plane in March, according to Aviation International News.
Glazer’s son Ken confirmed to The Times via email that his parents were the only passengers on the plane. Another son, Rick Glazer, declined to confirm to the Associated Press that they had been killed, saying “We know so little.”
FAA documents list a registration address matching the offices of Buckingham Properties, and Russell J. Gullo, the owner named in the papers, confirmed that the Glazers were clients. The same FAA registration documents list Jane Glazer as the “borrower” on a lease agreement.
New York State Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy offered his sympathies to Glazer’s family, saying he had “immense respect” for both of them.
“Their business acumen was only matched by their integrity, philanthropy, and community spirit,” Duffy said in a statement. “Larry did more for developing downtown Rochester than anyone I know, and Jane was set to be inducted into the business hall of fame. They cannot be replaced.”
In a statement posted on Twitter, New York State Assemblyman Joseph Morelle remembered the couple, who he said “believed in the full potential of Rochester.”
“Their presence will be forever felt throughout Rochester, a community they loved, fought tirelessly for, and called home,” Morelle wrote.
Air traffic controllers had been out of contact with the plane for several hours and believed the pilot may have been unconscious, Capt. Jennifer Stadnyk, a spokeswoman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), said earlier.
The pilot stopped responding to air traffic control shortly after 10 a.m., the FAA said. Shortly before that, radio traffic reveals the pilot had requested permission to fly at a lower altitude, saying that something was “not correct” in the plane.
“We need to get lower,” the pilot can be heard saying, though he declined to declare an emergency. He was eventually cleared to fly at an altitude of 20,000 feet, and was instructed to make a 30-degree turn to the left, but stopped responding soon after.
Initially, two F-16 military jets based in South Carolina flew up to investigate. Around 11:30 a.m., NORAD sent two U.S. F-15 military jets to escort the plane, who observed the pilot of the aircraft slumped over.
Later, they saw fog and frost on the windows, and the agency said it suspected the incident may have been due to lack of oxygen.
The two jets peeled off after the aircraft entered restricted airspace over Cuba, officials said, to wait until the aircraft returned to international airspace.
While the jets returned to base to refuel, however, the plane crashed.
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