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Coast Guard: Pilot loses consciousness, plane crashes into Atlantic Ocean off Virginia coast

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CHINCOTEAGUE, Virginia — A pilot lost consciousness and the plane drifted into restricted airspace over the nation's capital, scrambling fighter jets that stayed with the small aircraft until it ran out of fuel and crashed Saturday into the Atlantic Ocean, the Coast Guard said.

Crews searched the waters for the single-engine Cirrus plane, which crashed about 50 miles southeast of Chincoteague Island along the Virginia coast, Coast Guard Petty Officer Nate Littlejohn said. The plane took off from Waukesha, Wisconsin, and was headed to Manassas, Virginia, which is about 30 miles southwest of Washington, National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Peter Knudson said.

The Coast Guard was notified about 2:40 p.m. Saturday that the plane failed to land in Manassas and flew into restricted airspace. Two Air Force F16s took to the air and confirmed the pilot was unconscious. They stayed with the plane until it crashed.

No one else was on board.

The plane was registered to Ronald Hutchinson, of Brookfield, Wisconsin. Relatives reached at a phone listing for him didn't want to comment Saturday night.

A Coast Guard helicopter found no sign of the plane before heading back for refueling. A C130 airplane based out of Elizabeth City, North Carolina, and an 87-foot cutter from Virginia Beach also were responding, Littlejohn said.

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