Coast Guard suspends search for missing Navy pilot in Lake Ponchartrain

NEW ORLEANS — The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search for the missing U.S. Navy pilot at approximately 4 p.m., Monday.

The missing pilot and one other pilot were aboard a U.S. Navy T-34 training plane when it crash landed in Lake Ponchartrain Saturday approximately 1 mile north of Lake Front Airport. Watchstanders at the Eighth Coast Guard District Command Center were notified at approximately 6:40 p.m. Saturday by Air Traffic Control that the T-34 was no longer visible on radar. The Coast Guard launched rescue boats and crews from Coast Guard Station New Orleans and an MH-65C rescue helicopter and crew from Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans, and rescued one pilot Saturday.

The Coast Guard has searched continuously for three days for the missing pilot. The rescue effort consisted of nine helicopter sorties, six rescue small boat sorties, and five Coast Guard Auxiliary sorties before suspending the search that covered approximately 392 square nautical miles.

Initial reports were that both pilots were clinging to the aircraft before it sank. Weather conditions at the time of the crash were: air temperature 50 degrees Fahrenheit, water temperature 52 degrees Fahrenheit and the winds were calm.

The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Department is continuing its search using side sonar scanning devices.

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