At about 1140 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged during a forced landing into the Gulf of Mexico. The private pilot was not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.
While en route to St. Petersburg, Fla., from Knoxville, Tenn., the pilot maneuvered the airplane around several thunderstorms before the engine began to run rough and lost partial power over the Gulf of Mexico. The pilot declared an emergency, searched for a place to land and located nearby islands. He ditched in approximately three to four feet of water and was rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard about 35 minutes later.