CAUGHT ON CAMERA: Small plane illegally flies dangerously close to boats at busy tourist attraction

Police need help identifying pilot
Posted at 5:16 PM, Mar 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-29 06:51:27-04

Treasure Island police are asking for the public's help to identify the pilot, caught on camera, illegally flying over the waters of John's Pass.

John’s pass is Pinellas County’s #1 tourist attraction where plenty of people go out on the water in boats, skis, waterboards and kayaks. That’s why it’s actually against city ordinance to take off or land anywhere around there unless it’s an emergency and that wasn’t the case.

Tourists and locals were left shaken at the tense moments caught on camera.

“Wow, he’s pretty brave to do that!” said Janine Pankow, a tourist from Chicago.

An Ultralight plane at first was floating along dozens of boats. Witnesses say his next move could have been disastrous. 

“I did hear the plane zooming up and then I looked right over and saw him taking off very close to boats," said Robbie McMillan who saw it all happen in person.

The plane rapidly began gaining speed.

“Boats were speeding out of his way as he was speeding through," said Bree Simon, a witness.

The closest encounter was right at take-off.

“He almost hit the top of somebody’s watercraft itself," said Simon.




McMillan, who is a server at Scully’s on the board-walk, is also a certified boating captain. He believes this pilot jeopardized the lives of everyone on the water.

“It’s very dangerous and seems more stupid than anything," he said.

He’s also seen pilots do this before.

“When it’s done it’s always been in a bay in a remote area never in a pass," said McMillan.

Meanwhile, server Bree Simon tells ABC Action News she’s seen this plane hanging around here before.

“It’s not fair for tourists to come here and be put into harm’s way because someone is acting like a fool," she said.

While Treasure Island Police hunt down the pilot, and already have a couple of leads, tourists and locals hope the dangerous behavior won’t happen again.

“Catch him and revoke his license to fly," said Pankow.

Treasure Island Police say they want to go further than a fine. Should they find this guy, they plan to forward their investigation to the Federal Aviation Administration.