- Associated Press - Friday, September 11, 2015

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - A single-engine plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast on Thursday, and emergency officials were searching for its pilot with boat and helicopter crews.

The Mooney M20 aircraft departed from Gaylord, Michigan, earlier in the day and was headed to Atlantic City International Airport when it crashed into the ocean around 2:45 p.m., the Federal Aviation Administration said.

The pilot was identified as Michael Moir of Gaylord.

His wife, Jean Moir, told The Press of Atlantic City that her 68-year-old husband had been flying planes for 40 years. “A couple of days ago he went to the airport to see if everything was ready,” she said.

The Coast Guard said it was searching the debris field along with the state police and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Flight tracking software showed the plane traveling past the airport at around 20,000 feet. The plane began quickly descending, going from a drop rate of 1,113 feet per minute to 5,438 feet per minute over the course of two minutes while heading east and out to sea, the data showed.

FlightAware data analyst Ryan Jorgenson called that descent rate “not normal.” He said that weather data showed there was low visibility at the airport around the time the plane flew over and there were thunderstorms in the area.

It was the second plane crash being investigated in New Jersey on Thursday. A seaplane that took off Tuesday and was reported missing Thursday was found soon after in the woods near Somerset Airport. Its pilot was dead.

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This story has been corrected to show the seaplane was reported missing on Thursday, not on Tuesday.

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