Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Pilot OK after he lands his Piper Cherokee in swamp

It was an hour into the leisurely flight from Key West to Sarasota when Dan Lawrence's flight training kicked into gear.

He was heading home in his 1971 Piper Cherokee airplane after spending time in Key West for the World Power Boat Championship races when he said he started to experience a full engine failure.

"I went into emergency landing mode and concentrated on a safe landing area," Lawrence, owner of Lawrence Residential Funding Corporation in Sarasota, said from his office Tuesday afternoon. "It was a pretty soft landing."

At about 8:45 a.m. Monday, a call was received reporting a plane was experiencing engine problems. The U.S. Coast Guard Seventh District out of Miami and FWC immediately dispatched a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Miami to the swampy area in shallow water in the Everglades, about 15 miles southwest of Homestead. Because of the remote location, the area was not accessible by vehicles.

Lawrence was the only person on board and was not injured during the forced landing. He was standing on the wing of his plane when the Coast Guard arrived by helicopter.

"I am 100 percent O.K.," he said.

Damage to the aircraft is unknown but Lawrence said he believes it is minor.

The FAA is investigating.

sfrederick@keysnews.com

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