MIAMI - Authorities resumed searching Friday for a man who a pilot said fell from his small plane into the Atlantic Ocean near Miami.
Miami-Dade Police Department spokesman Javier Baez said the agency's air and marine units were looking for the man's body in what has become a recovery rather than a rescue effort.
The call for help came Thursday afternoon, when the pilot of a Piper PA 46 aircraft radioed "mayday, mayday, mayday," and told an air traffic controller that a door was ajar and a passenger had fallen from the plane. The aircraft had just taken off from Tamiami Executive Airport, located south of Miami, Baez said.
The identities of the pilot and passenger have not been released, nor has their intended destination. Baez said they were the only two people on board.
FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said the call came at 1:30 p.m. Thursday. The plane was flying at about 2,000 feet, some eight miles southeast of the Tamiami airport.
Baez said investigators have no evidence of foul play, and are gathering as much evidence as possible.
Both the Coast Guard and fire rescue officials said initially they tried to determine if the call was legitimate.
According to a report on the website Live ATC.Net, the unidentified pilot calmly radioed the air traffic controller. LiveATC.Net provides live air traffic-control broadcasts from control towers and radar facilities around the world.
"I have a door ajar and a passenger that fell down. I'm six miles from Tamiami," the pilot says.
"You said you've got a passenger that fell out of your plane?" the air traffic controller responds.
"That's correct, sir," the pilot responds. "He opened the back door and he just fell out the plane."