Plane that buzzed Ravenel Bridge ID'd as mosquito contractor - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

Plane that buzzed Ravenel Bridge ID'd as mosquito contractor

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Charleston County officials on Thursday confirmed speculation from several area pilots -- the single-engine plane that did a low-altitude fly over of the Ravenel Bridge was a mosquito plane.

According to information from the county's media relations office, the mosquito control supervisor confirmed that a contracted plane did fly by the bridge on Wednesday to treat Drum Island.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it would be investigating the incident to "determine whether any Federal air safety regulations were violated during the flights."

Officials did not identify the pilot, but said the contractor, Williamsburg Air, had a plane in the area "conducting a standard flight near the Ravenel Bridge."

"The plane was operating within the FAA guidelines, which enable us to exist in a restricted category so we can fly low to treat mosquito larvae. Yesterday, specifically, the plane was near the bridge while treating both ends of Drum Island, a spoil area that is a notorious breeding ground for mosquitoes," the county's statement read.

While the plane's flight path was routine, according to the county, recent events around the country appeared to have people on edge as Consolidated Dispatch received several calls about the plane.

"Hello, we have a crazy plane flying over the Ravenel Bridge," said one caller. "I'm not kidding you when I say he barely just missed the bridge."

The caller went on to say that her daughter's friends thinks she saw the plane fly under the bridge during one of its passes.

Another caller told dispatchers that the plane just missed the streetlights that line the Ravenel Bridge, adding that he saw the same plane buzzing the I-526 bridge over the Cooper River.

"He seriously was like 20 feet above me," the man said in the 911 call.

"There was a small plane that almost hit the bridge and almost caused several car accidents from everybody looking -- it came really low," said a third caller to 911.

Officials said police in the area were notified in advance of the flight, which the county emphasized was not a "fly-by" of the bridge, as is normal for safety guidelines.

Scot Page is a flight instructor at Coastal Aviation. He says that if a regular plane flew this close to the bridge there would be serious repercussions.  

"We are required by law to stay at least 500 feet away from any man-made structures or person's property, so if you bust that then like I said you could get the FAA involved, local airport authority would come down and have a sternly worded letter or something along those lines," said Page.

Even though it is normally illegal, he believes the low flight had a purpose.

"Would you rather get bit by mosquitoes all summer long or have a plane fly over top of you for two seconds?" said Page.

A video sent to ABCNews4 on Wednesday afternoon shows a small plane doing a low ceiling fly-by over the Ravenel Bridge. Charleston police said they received several calls about the plane around 3:30 p.m., but by the time a dispatched officer arrived, the plane was gone.

A caller to the ABCNews4 newsroom said she called 911 after she saw the plane and thought it was going to crash into the bridge.

Video courtesy Ted Childress.

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