By Rich Pollack
Teams from the U.S. Coast Guard and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office on Jan. 25 recovered the body of a 24-year-old pilot from inside a plane that crashed into the ocean south of the Boynton Inlet and settled almost intact on the ocean floor under 40 feet of water.
The plane, a single-engine Piper PA-28, disappeared shortly after 8 p.m. the day before after taking off from the Palm Beach County Airport in Lantana and was headed for Merritt Island, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. A Mayday alert from the plane was received by the control tower at Palm Beach International Airport after contact had been lost with the aircraft.
A search that included more than a half-dozen local, state and federal agencies continued into the morning, and crews aboard a Sheriff’s Office helicopter spotted the plane less than a mile offshore.
Dive teams recovered the body of Abhishek Patter, who was wearing a pilot’s uniform, before noon. Patter, according to published reports, had recently earned a certification from a flight school in Merritt Island. Earlier in the day, walkers on the beach recovered landing gear and what was believed to be an emergency beacon from the aircraft and turned them over to Ocean Ridge police.
The cause of the crash was under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, according to the Sheriff’s Office.