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Pilot, Captain Frank Schurgers, walked away When Skybolt 29 crashed off Lido Key last week. Flying from Venice Municipal Airport.

Plane crash off Lido Key; Pilot walks away with scratch

A 2003 bright yellow Skybolt 29 crashed off Lido Key last week. The pilot, Frank Schurgers, walked away with only a minor scrape on his forehead.
Schurgers set out for a day of flying from Venice Municipal Airport. Enjoying a beautiful, cloudless, low-wind day that he thought would end with nothing but a few more hours on his log and some great memories, however, things didn’t go as planned.
Fifteen minutes into his flight while heading north over the waters off Lido Key, Schurgers stated the bi-plane’s engine stopped. Schurgers crash-landed into the shallow waters offshore. A lifeguard on a water scooter ferried the pilot to the beach.
The small aircraft’s pilot was the only person on board; he was not injured.
The single-engine plane was partially submerged in about six feet of water about 400 yards offshore.  And, according to Schurgers, the plane held approximately 17–18 gallons of fuel in the 29-gallon fuel tank and six gallons of oil.
Within what Schurgers described as minutes, rescue personnel along with watercraft and land vehicles arrived to rescue him.
According to witnesses the plane turned toward the beach and kept descending. It leveled off at about 50 feet, flew straight, then tilted left and cart-wheeled into the water.
Sarasota Marine Patrol Officer Bruce King attached a line to the plane and dragged it as close to the shoreline as his vessel would allow, at which point a land vehicle attached a line and dragged the plane onto the beach.
According to Schurgers the open cockpit bi-plane weighs 1,300 pounds empty. With fuel and a pilot it weighs roughly 1,800 pounds.
The cause of the plane’s malfunction is not known at this time. Schurgers stated that the plane had just passed an inspection approximately three weeks earlier.

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