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Wed, Dec 03, 2008

Coast Guard Calls Off Search For Plane Missing Off FL Coast

Beech B33 Goes Down In Gulf Of Mexico Near Thunderstorms

Search crews with the US Coast Guard have suspended their efforts to find the two men missing when their Beechcraft Debonair crashed somewhere off the coast of the Florida panhandle Sunday evening.

The Associated Press reports the search for 35-year-old Darien Peckham and 28-year-old Zachary Schlitt was stopped Tuesday evening, pending further developments. The two men took off from Tallahassee Regional Airport (TLH) just after 5:30 pm Sunday night, on an IFR flight plan to Vandenberg Airport in Tampa.

The last radar signature received from the aircraft occurred over the Gulf of Mexico near Yankeetown, FL. Rescue crews have recovered a flight bag containing headphones, and a seat presumed to have come from the men's Beech B33... but there's been no sign of the aircraft, or of the missing men.

Initial search efforts were hampered by strong thunderstorms in the vicinity at the time of the crash, as seen in the image below:

Friends told The Tampa Tribune Peckham has been a pilot since May 2005, and enjoys formation flying. Schlitt earned his PPL in October 2007.

(Image courtesy of FlightAware.com)

FMI: www.faa.gov

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