HomeOutdoorsNewsSmall Plane Crash Kills Family of Three Seconds After Takeoff

Small Plane Crash Kills Family of Three Seconds After Takeoff

by Caitlin Berard
Small Plane Preparing for Flight at Sunset
(Photo by cghappel via Getty Images)

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released its preliminary findings following the investigation of a small airplane crash in Florida that killed a family of three mere seconds after takeoff in early December.

The horrific accident took place during a return flight from Venice Municipal Airport (VNC) to St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE) on December 3, 2022, per NTSB officials. The small single-engine Piper Cherokee aircraft lifted off from a 5,000-foot runway at VNC just after 7:30 pm, around 4,100 feet beyond the “approach end of the runway” traveling about 101 mph.

As the plane neared the end of the runway, its speed increased to 103 mph before the aircraft climbed 50 feet into the air. For four seconds, the plane continued to climb, reaching an altitude of 75 feet at 108 mph before descending.

Only 16 seconds after leaving the ground, the small plane plummeted into the Gulf of Mexico around 1,800 feet past the end of the runway. According to weather reports, there were 8 mph winds at the time, with a broken ceiling at 5,000 feet above ground level.

Per the NTSB report, airport surveillance footage shows the airplane leaving the runway with “little to no angle of climb” before flying over dark water with “no discernible horizon.”

As reported by Venice Police Chief Charlie Thorpe, the pilot did not signal a mayday.

Victims of Florida Plane Crash Identified

U.S. Coast Guard officials searched the Gulf for hours after the crash before finally finding the plane about a third of a mile into the ocean west of the airport. At the time of its discovery, the aircraft was about 15 feet underwater.

While the Coast Guard investigated the crash, a group of recreational divers stumbled upon a harrowing discovery. The body of a woman was floating in the water, who police later confirmed was related to the pilot.

Search and rescue divers located the second victim, a 12-year-old girl also related to the pilot. Following their investigation, authorities revealed that the woman and child were Misty and Lily Kath, the wife and daughter of the pilot. The pilot, 42-year-old Christian Kath, remains missing as of the latest information.

Kath had 13.5 hours of flight experience at the time of the plane crash, authorities say. He earned his private pilot certificate on July 31, 2022, and had amassed over 74 hours of flight experience before the crash. Of those hours, 67.6 took place in a Piper Cherokee similar to the accident airplane.

According to the FAA and maintenance records, the small plane was manufactured in 1976. Though an older model, the plane had a 100-hour inspection completed at 7,653 total aircraft hours on November 2, 2022, just one month before the fatal crash.