Small plane goes down in ocean off Shore Drive

The people who swam out to help the pilot then pulled the plane out of the ocean up on to the beach. / Witness on scene

A banner plane went down in the Atlantic Ocean off Shore Drive in Horry County around 1:30 Friday afternoon.

Witnesses said they heard the plane spit and sputter and then saw it glide into the ocean about 50 feet offshore.

Banner planes are small planes that fly up and down the coast pulling advertising banners. This plane was flying a banner for Insurance company, Geico.

Todd Young ran into the water to help before the plane even touched the ocean. "When we got out there, the water was about up to his neck and my first concern was I don't want him to go under."

Once Young and others rescued the pilot, more jumped in to save the plane.. pulling it onto the beach.

Pam Davis spoke with the pilot after the crash and says he was doing fine but shaken up. "He was upset. He must have been in shock or scared to death, but he was a sweetheart. Once he got done and everything, he thanked everybody. He was glad to get out of here in some dry clothes, I'm sure."

Horry County emergency responders took the pilot to the hospital to get checked out.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation.