An Austin pilot, on his way to Rockport in his Beechcraft Bonanza, crashed into Copano Bay about two miles short of the runway.
Aransas County Airport Manager Mike Geer said the pilot, Clifford McTee III, was meeting a fishing guide at the airport. McTee left the San Marcos Airport at 6:42 a.m. with an expected arrival at 7:41a.m.
“He radioed 20 miles out and said he intended to land on Runway 14 from the west,” said Geer. “His fishing guide was waiting for him at the terminal with his boat in tow.
“At 7:40 a.m. the guide came to us and said the plane crashed in the Copano Bay. He ran to his truck and went to the boat ramp so he could launch and rescue.”
Geer said the first planes on station were a navy trainer and a wingman that reported the downed plane between two and three miles off shore to the west of the field. The United States Coast Guard (USCG) was in route, but still 15 minutes away.
“I asked the off shore helicopter pilot Mark Rollston if he could launch and give rescuers an exact location,” said Geer. “He took off about the time the Navy trainers arrived on station and advised that the downed aircraft was in about eight feet of water and that someone was standing on the wing.”
Geer said Rollston then told him the person on the wing was getting into a boat and being transported to shore.
The Aransas County Sheriff Office (ACSO) launched its boat, as well.
Geer did not know which boat transported McTee to shore.
Geer said an ACSO Deputy transported McTee to the airport terminal where he received treatment by Allegiance EMS for a moderate forehead abrasion. The pilot then left with his fishing guide.
“The Department of Public Safety and USCG are currently in charge of the scene,” Geer said Monday. “Since no one was transported to the hospital, the Federal Aviation Administration has released the accident to authorities for a recovery operation.
“I don’t know what the plan is for getting the plane out of the bay, but McTee told me he still had about 70 gallons of fuel in the wings,” said Geer. “I’m sure the situation is being treated as urgent.”