Officials were looking Monday for a pilot who landed a small banner plane on a restricted beach at the Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May and disappeared before authorities arrived.
About 7:50 p.m. Sunday, base security saw the single-engine red plane landing on the beach via closed-circuit cameras, prompting an emergency response that included the Coast Guard police and fire departments and Cape May County law enforcement agencies, including the Sheriff’s Department’s canine unit.
First responders found the plane without the pilot, triggering a search of the facility on Sewell Point, south of the Cape May Inlet.
Barracks on the base were placed on a cautionary lockdown overnight, but the search ended Monday morning after surveillance video and search dogs indicated the pilot had left the area, officials said.
Investigators have located the plane’s registered owner, but did not release additional information while the hunt for the pilot was under way.
Barbara Tomalino, president of Cape May County-based Paramount Air Service, said the Piper PA-12 came from her company’s fleet of banner-towing aircraft.
“It was taken without our knowledge or our permission,” she said.
Tomalino said that she was cooperating with investigators and that they have a name of the person believed to have taken the plane.
Witnesses on social media reported seeing a plane flying erratically before the aircraft landed on the boot camp beach.
NEW VIDEO: A family recorded video of a low flying plane over Wildwood Sunday evening. The father yelled for his girls to get out of the water. The plane later illegally landed on a secure Coast Guard beach in Cape May and the pilot fled the scene. https://t.co/tnUUlITOHn pic.twitter.com/CnV1QqusYk
— Action News on 6abc (@6abc) June 25, 2018