|The pilot's body shortly after it was off-loaded from boat (Daily Herald St Maarten photo)|
November 2, 2014 - CARIBBEAN SEA - The pilot and co-pilot of a cargo plane, contracted by Fedex, died when the aircraft plunged into the Caribbean Sea off Dutch St. Maarten.
Acting Director of the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard, Wendell Thode told Caribbean News Desk that the body of the 59-year old German pilot was recovered Wednesday night about four hours after the twin-engine SH-36 plane went down.
He said that the Search and Rescue teams on Thursday called off the search because they believed that the American co-pilot died and his body might still be in the submerged aircraft.
Thode said that about 6:55 PM Wednesday, the Coast Guard was informed by Air Traffic Controllers at the Princess Julianna International Airport that the plane went down one minute after take-off to return to Puerto Rico.
He said that immediately private boat owners, the Coast Guard, a cruise-ship and a LIAT plane assisted in providing the coordinates of the crash-site.
Immediately rescuers rushed to the area, Thode said, where debris was seen afloat. The pilot’s body was located about four hours later and taken to a mortuary.
The cause of the crash was unknown. The government said local aviation authorities would conduct an investigation with assistance from experts from the U.S., where the plane was registered, and Britain, where it was manufactured.
The names of the pilots were withheld until their families could be notified.
St. Maarten is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and shares an island with French St. Martin.
The Skyway Enterprises twin-engine SH36 aircraft was en route to Puerto Rico at the time of the crash. Skyway Enterprises, based in Kissimmee, Florida, was operating under contract with FedEx. - Carib News Desk.