Miami police are investigating how a man fell out of a plane 2,000 feet above the ocean Thursday.
About 1:30 p.m., a pilot reported that the door of his Piper PA-46 Malibu aircraft was open and that somebody had fallen out, Coast Guard 7th District Public Affairs Spc. Mark Barney told the Los Angeles Times.
Police were interviewing the pilot, Miami Police Department spokesman Det. Javier Baez told The Times. Baez said he did not know whether it was a suicide, but the original report that he received said it was either a fall or a jump.
The incident happened about 8 miles southeast of the Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport, Barney said.
In an air traffic controller recording, the pilot says: “Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! I have a door ajar and I’m heading toward Tamiami."
“You said you had a passenger that fell out of your plane?” the air traffic controller asked the pilot.
“That’s correct, sir. He opened the back door and he just fell out the plane,” the pilot responded.
The plane had just taken off from Tamiami, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen told The Times. It turned around and landed safely. The airport, about 10 miles southwest of downtown Miami, generally serves small jets.
The passenger and the pilot were the only people aboard the plane, the communications director for the Miami-Dade Aviation Department, Greg Chin, told The Times. Chin said that it was a private aircraft and that its flight was authorized. Neither the passenger nor the pilot’s name has been released.
On Thursday afternoon, Barney said a Coast Guard search-and-rescue unit was looking for the man, along with three marine units from the Miami-Dade Police Department and a Miami-Dade County fire rescue team helicopter. According to a Twitter message from Arnold Piedrahita Jr., spokesman for Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, his agency has since been called off the search.
The incident appeared oddly reminiscent of an occurrence off Newport Beach this month. In that case, a passenger chartered a sightseeing helicopter, opened the door and jumped out, falling about 500 feet into the ocean. He died at a hospital. The incident was under investigation as a possible suicide.