TBM Avenger ditches in the sea at Cocoa Beach Airshow

COCOA BEACH | A TBM Avenger has made a forced landing in the sea while taking part in the Cocoa Beach Airshow today (Saturday 17th April).

A video posted by Spectrum News 13 reporter Greg Pallone on Twitter shows the aircraft making a controlled water landing in front of spectators. Mr Pallone said nobody was injured in the incident.

The aircraft belongs to the Valiant Air Command, a Titusville-based aviation museum which also operates a number of airworthy warbirds such as a B-25 Mitchell, C-47 Dakota and F-86 Sabre. The Avenger, which the museum have owned since 2002, recently completed an 18-year restoration to flight, returning to the air in January 2020.

The Valiant Air Command said salvage efforts would continue into the night. “We are planning to float her to the Port Canaveral harbor area and crane her out there,” they said.

“The pilot performed the safest ditch maneuver possible and landed the plane just offshore from Patrick Space Force Base. He was taken to hospital after walking away from the crash landing, and has been released with no injuries.”

A fundraiser has been launched to cover the costs of the aircraft’s restoration, but it has not been determined whether this will be to flying or static condition.

The aircraft was taking part in the Cocoa Beach Airshow, one of the first events of the North American 2021 airshow season. Taking place over the 17th-18th September, it was expected to attract up to 50,000 visitors per day. As well as the TBM, performers include the USAF F-22A Raptor and the Thunderbirds (the latter will be debuting their new 2021 display profile at the show).

Sunday’s show is not expected to be affected.