photos by SC Publisher Shannen Hayes
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was originally published on Aug. 12 and has been updated with additional information.
A single-engine, single-seat Piper aircraft safely made an emergency landing at 1:20 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12, on the beach near West Gulf Drive access one. Pilot Kevin Vetter of Groveland, Fla., who works for Aerial Banners, reported to Sanibel Police that his plane began to sputter. The cause was later determined to be an iced carburetor.
The aircraft was inspected and deemed safe to fly after the issue was corrected. Sanibel Deputy Chief Thompson gave approval for the plane to take off from the beach since it only required approximately 500 feet to become airborne. The beach was cleared of people and the plane took off eastbound without further complications. The banner Vetter released from the plane prior to his emergency landing was not recovered.
Witnesses at the scene said they could tell something was wrong with the plane from the sound of the engine. One witness told the officers she “was impressed with the pilot’s landing.”
No injuries were reported. The Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Sanibel Fire Department and the US Coast Guard were also at the scene. The Federal Aviation Administration and the Lee County Port Authority were notified. Since the criteria for a crash was not met, an investigator did not respond to the scene.