Aircraft May Have Lost Horizon During Late Night Approach
Sad news from
northwestern Florida Saturday, as reports of a Cessna 206 down near
Cedar Key were confirmed.
The aircraft was lost just after midnight Saturday morning with
two passengers and one pilot aboard as the aircraft was
on approach to the Cedar Key Airport (CDK). Witnesses reported
seeing an orange fiery glow on the water after losing sight of
aircraft position lights according to a report by the St.
Searchers recovered the body of passenger and aircraft owner
John Borchard, 43, Saturday afternoon. His body and the wreckage of
the Cessna were found a mile from the Cedar Key Airport in the Gulf
of Mexico. Two others, including the pilot, have not been found and
their names have not been released.
On Friday, the Cessna 206 departed from Plant City Airport (PCM)
with a pilot, Borchard and two Tampa Bay area couples aboard,
according to Cedar Key police Chief Virgil Sandlin. The trip to the
small resort town of Cedar Key, 50 miles west of Ocala, FL was a
wedding present for one of the couples.
Upon landing in Cedar Key, the group met two sisters,
vacationing from Illinois and Iowa who were watching the sunset
from the airport. The Tampa group asked the women for a ride
downtown, and the eight people went to Frog's Landing, a popular
restaurant in the town.
Upon leaving the restaurant, the vacationing sisters asked the
group if they could return to the airport so one of them could take
a flight and see the town at night. The pilot agreed, and took her
and Borchard up as a favor to the sisters for driving them
"All it was was a courtesy fly," Sandlin said. The plane (type
shown above) took off about 0030 local, while the rest of the group
returned to the restaurant. The flight lasted about 15 minutes.
Upon returning to the airport, the group saw the blinking lights
of the plane coming toward them from the west. Then, they saw an
orange glow like a fireball on the water.
"They kept waiting for the plane to come in and it never did,"
The Federal Aviation Administration declared the plane overdue
about 0200 and called the Coast Guard. An HH-60 Jayhawk rescue
helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station in Clearwater launched at
0330 along with a 27-foot rescue boat from Coast Guard Station
Yankeetown in Levy County.
Borchard's body was found by a fisherman floating about a mile
from the west end of Cedar Key Airport, 16 hours after the plane
disappeared into the water, Sandlin said.
The George T. Lewis/Cedar Key Airport (shown below) has one
runway, 2355 feet in length. The entire airport is surrounded by
water, and both runways end at the water's edge. Pilots consider
the airport a challenging one in general, but particularly at night
-- as approaches are over water in a sparsely populated area,
leaving little visual reference for a horizon. Additionally,
reflections of stars in the water have led to disorientation.
As of 2005, records showed 47 crashes claiming 25 lives had been
investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board in the
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the
Citrus County Sheriff's Office are continuing the search.