Unconscious Pilot Circles Over Gulf of Mexico

Search and rescue operation is under way

By Frank Heinz
|  Thursday, Apr 19, 2012  |  Updated 12:11 PM CDT
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Plane Crashes into Gulf: NBC News

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A search and rescue operation is under way in the Gulf of Mexico, where a private plane crashed into the water Thursday.

The plane crashed approximately 170 miles off the coast of Florida.

Officials believe the pilot of the aircraft was unconscious and began planning for the mission as the plane circled over the gulf.

So far, information on the plane's origin or the pilot has not been revealed and authorities have not confirmed what led to the pilot being incapacitated.

In 1999, golfer Payne Stewart and five others were killed when the private jet they were flying in lost cabin pressure.  The plane, on autopilot, continued on until it ran out of fuel and crashed in a South Dakota field.

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