Report: Pilot Conducting Ocean Survey For Commercial Fishing Operation Before Engine Trouble

Report: Pilot Conducting Ocean Survey For Commercial Fishing Operation Before Engine Trouble
Photo by Campos Media

OCEAN CITY — The small plane forced to make an emergency landing in the ocean last month suffered engine trouble about eight miles offshore and was attempting to get to the airport, according to a preliminary National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report released this week.

Around 6:15 p.m. on July 16, a single-engine 1981 Cessna 172 RG crashed into the ocean about a quarter mile from shore at 21st Street. The pilot and lone occupant, identified as Trevor Deihl, 23, of Reedville, Va., was able to get out of the aircraft and was not seriously injured. He was assessed at the scene by Ocean City EMS immediately following the crash and it was determined he did not need to be transported to the hospital.

The NTSB on Wednesday released its preliminary report on the incident. According to the report, the Cessna 172 RG was registered and operated by Deihl at the time of the incident. The flight originated at the Reedville Airport in Reedville, Va. and its stated purpose was an aerial survey. According to the NTSB report, the purpose of the flight was to spot fish in support of a commercial fishing operation. According to the NTSB report, Deihl outlined where and when he began to experience engine trouble.

“He said that at 3,000 feet above the water and eight miles offshore, the engine began to shake and lose RPMs,” the report reads. “In an effort to avoid ditching the airplane in the ocean waters, he navigated to the shoreline and the nearest airport. When it became evident he was unable to reach the airport, he ditched the airplane in the shallow waters of the ocean surf to avoid bystanders on the beach.”

A video of the crash shows the plane maintaining a horizontal position as it glided into the ocean before nose-diving into the water. It is uncertain just when Deihl was able to get out of the downed aircraft, but he was successfully able to glide it into the water just offshore. Had the incident occurred much earlier in the day, there likely would have been numerous swimmers and bathers in the ocean in that area.

According to the NTSB report, the skies were clear with high visibility and light winds. There were no meteorological conditions that contributed to the emergency landing. The plane suffered extensive damage to the right elevator, according to the report. However, it was essentially destroyed when it was pulled from the ocean. Personnel from the Ocean City Beach Patrol, the Ocean City Police Department and the Ocean City Fire Department responded immediately to the scene. Members of the Ocean City Fire Department dive team stabilized the downed aircraft, which had floated into the shoreline.

Waves pounded the vessel as it came to rest in the shore break, causing further damage. The plane was ultimately dragged onto the beach and later removed.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.