Small plane crashes at St. Pete-Clearwater airport

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Authorities are investigating a small plane crash that happened at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport. 

Officials say that at approximately 1:30 p.m. Saturday, a Piper Meridian single engine aircraft reported a problem after taking off from Runway 36, tried to land and crashed in the grass by the runway.

Paramedics responded to the scene and transported the pilot, 67-year-old Robert Brandon of Pensacola, to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg for serious but non-life-threatening injuries. Brandon was the only occupant in the plane.

Brandon informed deputies that he was headed to Pensacola. He was airborne and traveling northbound when he started experiencing mechanical problems with the plane.

In an attempt to land the plane, deputies say Brandon turned the plane in a right eastbound direction and the plane crashed next to the runway.

The engine and both wings of the plane were damaged as a result of the crash.  The FAA and the NTSB are investigating the cause of the crash.

Runway 18/36 was closed briefly and then reopened.  Flight operations have since returned to normal.