Skip to main content
CNN.com /TRANSCRIPTS
CNN TV
EDITIONS
SERVICES
CNN TV
EDITIONS


CNN BREAKING NEWS

Student Pilot Crashes Single-Engine Plane Into Bank of America Building

Aired January 5, 2002 - 18:37   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CATHERINE CALLAWAY, CNN ANCHOR: We bring you the latest on a developing story that we are following out of Tampa, Florida. We're going to show you now scenes of what's going on there in Tampa. A single-engine plane, as we told you, crashed into the Bank of America building, damaging two floors there.

A 15-year-old student pilot was at the controls of this plane as it took off from an airport in St. Petersburg, apparently without proper clearance. The U.S. Coast Guard was called in and on the phone with us now is Lt. Charlotte Pittman. She's in Clearwater. She's with the Coast Guard.

Lieutenant, can you tell us what happened?

LT. CHARLOTTE PITTMAN, U.S. COAST GUARD: Yes, ma'am. As far as the Coast Guard is concerned, we had a Coast Guard H-60 Jayhawk helicopter airborne on a routine port security patrol and they were notified by the St. Petersburg air traffic control tower at St. Petersburg/Clearwater International Airport that a Cessna 172 had taken off without taxi clearance or takeoff clearance.

The H-60 diverted from its patrol and intercepted the Cessna, following it, and attempted to give visual signals for them to land at Peter O. Knight (ph) Airport, which is a small airport just south of downtown Tampa. The Cessna basically ignored their signals, and they were following it when it flew into the Bank of America building.

CALLAWAY: Are you sure that the pilot was aware of your presence there?

PITTMAN: I'm not sure. I wasn't one of the pilots, but the helicopter was only a few yards away from it, so I'm sure the pilot saw them.

CALLAWAY: Do you have any information on the pilot at this time?

PITTMAN: No, ma'am. The Coast Guard doesn't have any information on him.

CALLAWAY: All right. That is Lt. Charlotte Pittman with the Coast Guard. Yes.

Also, we want to tell you the latest information we do have. We know that this plane did take off, as she just said, without proper clearance. That it crashed into the 20th floor of the building, and that in the wake of this crash, that commercial airports in both Tampa and St. Petersburg was temporarily suspended, operations in that area.

Now, as we said, this is a 15-year-old student pilot, and on the phone with us now is CNN's Miles O'Brien, who is a pilot himself. And, Miles, this is a very young student pilot.

Miles, are you there?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I am, Catherine. I am. And, yes, that is too young to be alone in an aircraft. You have to be at least 16 years old and hold a student pilot certificate in order to be legally allowed to fly an airplane by yourself. It is possible to obtain a private pilot certificate and actually fly by yourself at the age of 17.

Let me just back up a little bit, because I want to get my numbers right. It is -- once you have been signed off, it is possible at the age of 16 to fly while as a student pilot on solo flights. But at the age of 15, the pilot is too young to be alone in the aircraft.

Do we know for sure, however, that this person was alone? I haven't been able to hear all the coverage.

CALLAWAY: Well, so far that's the report, that it was a 15-year- old student pilot at the controls. We are just getting information on the story, as you know. It's a fluid situation. We have no confirmation even of any death of injuries.

If you could just back up a little bit, Miles, and tell us how it starts -- how you start to get your pilots license. As you said, he's not too young to study to get his license, but he's too young to be flying solo, right?

O'BRIEN: Well, it's actually -- the way the law is written and the way the federal aviation regulations are written, my six-year-old daughter Connery (ph) could start learning how to fly tomorrow, and if she could see over the dashboard and figure out how to do it, as long as she was with an instructor pilot.

CALLAWAY: Right.

O'BRIEN: Now, what happens is, as you go along -- and some people do start very young. They boost themselves up on telephone books and they learn how to fly, but they can't fly alone. That's the key thing. At the age of 16, provided they have shown enough capability and enough knowledge and enough handling capability and characteristics with the aircraft, they can move in to solo flights, which are part of the student training process.

While still a student, you do go out and take an aircraft by yourself under a student pilot certificate. As a matter of fact, about 20 hours of your student -- of your private pilot regimen is in the plane alone. And you plan out trips, you fly them alone, you come back and you talk to your instructor about what you did, and that's all part of getting private pilots certificate.

So, this is part of the regimen, but this person, if in fact this person is younger than 16, was a little ahead of the game.

CALLAWAY: How difficult is it, Miles, to fly a single-engine plane like this -- what you would normally learn to fly a plane?

O'BRIEN: Well, I mean, you would have to know a little bit about it before you just got in and turned key and cranked it up. It's not the kind of thing that video games would train you well for, so if in fact this 15-year-old was able to take the plane off and navigate from the Peter Knight (ph) field to downtown Tampa, that in and of itself demonstrates some capability.

CALLAWAY: And as we just heard the Coast Guard say, this plane taking off without proper clearance.

Thank you -- CNN's Miles O'Brien. Just want to bring you up to date now. As we told you, a single-engine plane crashing into the Bank of America building there in downtown Tampa. We know that two floors of the corner of that building were damaged. We have reports that it was a 15-year-old student pilot at the controls of that airplane that took off from the airport without proper clearance.

We'll continue to bring you information on this story as it becomes available.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


 
 
 
 


 Search   

Back to the top