A Saturday afternoon flight from Spadaro Airport in East Moriches ended in tragedy when a small single-engine airplane crashed and sank in Moriches Inlet, killing both men aboard.
Cyril Mclavin, 51, of Fresh Meadows and Andrew Messana, 72, of Bayside were flying Mr. Mclavin’s 1946 Globe Swift GC-1A, a single-engine aircraft, reportedly on their way to Republic Airport in Farmingdale.
According to Suffolk County Police, witnesses fishing in the inlet and on the beach heard the plane sputter and then saw it crash into the water, where it sank 20 to 30 feet at approximately 3:06 p.m.
Good samaritans who were fishing in a boat in the inlet notified authorities and were first to the scene, where they attempted to rescue the two men who appeared to be unconscious inside the cockpit, according to U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer Erik Swanson. They tied a line to the plane and secured the line to the shore to keep the plane from drifting out to sea. He said it sank within minutes of crashing. It is believed Mr. Mclavin and Mr. Messana were killed in the crash or in the aftermath, as the plane went underwater.
Crews from the Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound, members of the Suffolk County Police Marine Bureau, and the Hampton Bays Fire Department dive team arrived shortly after the plane sank and fought against mother nature to recover the victims all evening.
“It’s been a challenge,” Petty Officer Swanson said that night. “The aircraft is in about 20 feet of water, and the cockpit door is against the jetty in the inlet.”
At approximately 11 p.m., Chesterfield Associates, a contracting company based in Westhampton Beach, lifted the single-engine plane out of the water with a crane, according to County Police. Members of the County Police Marine Bureau recovered the bodies, Mr. Swanson said.
The plane was transported to the County Police impound unit.
The case has been turned over to the National Transportation Safety Board to determine the cause of the accident.