Small seaplane flips upside down in St. Johns River

Pilot rescued by kayaker; NTSB investigating

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A small seaplane with just the pilot on board flipped upside down after an attempt to land in the St. Johns River near the Dames Point Bridge, authorities said.

An incident report states 80-year-old James Beecroft was flying a seaplane just before noon Sunday when storms rolled through the area. According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, he landed on the St. Johns River near the Dames Point Bridge and, as he turned the plane, the wind caught the wing, which dipped into the water, flipping the plane.

Beecroft wasn’t injured, got out of the plane and was brought to a boat ramp by Jeffrey Rancour on a kayak.

"I went out fishing. I was coming back to get out of the storm and a guy flipped his plane over," Rancour said.

Rancour said he immediately went to rescue the man. He said the pilot was already standing outside of the plane and he paddled him back to shore.

Charlie Farnsworth is a friend of the pilot.

"I just happened to be watching News 4 on my phone and I see it near the water. We called his wife and said, 'Hey, something happened.' And she said, 'Yeah.' So, we went to see if we could find him and see where he's at," Farnsworth said.

Friends of the pilot said he's a skilled pilot.

"He is a good friend of ours. He's a good man. He's been flying for years. He's a commercial pilot. I'm just kind of shocked that he went down," Farnsworth said.

But Farnsworth is thankful his friend wasn't hurt.  

"The last thing you want to see is a friend of yours get hurt," he said. 

The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department said the aircraft was a single prop seaplane. The single-engine plane is registered to Daytona Consulting Inc. 

"I'm really happy that guy survived, and someone was there to help him. It could've been (a) much worse outcome," said nearby resident Evan Baker. 

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash, but did not send a team. 

The agency said Florida Air Recovery would be picking up the plane.

(Above photos courtesy of Evan Baker)