A pilot who landed his plane Thursday morning on the beach near Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course told authorities that he just wanted to photograph the scenery, the backdrop of next week’s PGA Championship.
The single-engine, fixed-wing Seaglide touched down around 11 a.m. on the sand about a quarter-mile from the golf course, Charleston County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Jim Brady said.
The pilot, Kenneth Leonard of Odessa, Fla., told deputies that he was on his way from Tampa to New Jersey when he stopped to capture the coastline. His plane got stuck in the sand.
The unexpected landing violated no federal regulations, and Leonard did not break any local laws, officials said. No one was hurt, and the experimental, amateur-built plane wasn’t damaged.
Leonard was allowed to power up his flying machine, which dislodged the aircraft, Brady said. He continued on his way to the Garden State around noon.
Kathleen Bergen, spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration’s Southern region, said there were “no problems” with the pilot’s brief diversion to catch the scenery.
“The landing took place on a deserted beach,” Bergen said. “There was no known danger to anyone.”
It was the second straight day in which unplanned excitement descended from the skies over Kiawah Island.
Around 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, a small tornado was filmed spinning through the island’s western end, near Seabrook Island and the Intracoastal Waterway. The National Weather Service labeled the twister an EF-0, the weakest of tornadoes.
No damage was reported in the remote area.
Brady, the sheriff’s major, said deputies will have a presence on the island as thousands of people flock there for the last major golf tournament of the season.
Their efforts will include air surveillance.
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414. Reach Andy Paras at 937-5589, Twitter.com/AndyParas or Facebook.com/AndyParasReporter.
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