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Missing Pilot Wrote of Flying Family for a ‘Weekend Away’ Before Plane Crash Killed Wife and Daughter

Christian and Misty Kath

Christian and Misty Kath

Christian and Misty Kath.
Photo: Facebook

Authorities have identified the three victims of Saturday’s fatal plane crash in the Gulf of Mexico.

On Tuesday morning, the Venice Police Department announced that the victims have been identified as 42-year-old pilot Christian Kath, who remains missing, as well as wife Misty Kath, 43, and their daughter Lily, 12, whose bodies have already been recovered.

The family, who lived in St. Petersburg, Fla., had previously resided in Australia, authorities shared.

As of Tuesday, police say that “the search for the missing pilot in the Gulf has been expanded area-wise, but assets have been scaled back.”

“Boaters from Sarasota Bay south to Gasparilla are requested to be aware of the possibility of a body or small aircraft debris floating in this area. Boaters who observe anything should immediately contact the Coast Guard using marine radio on channel 16,” they added, noting that divers will also be searching near the crash area.

plane crash deaths Venice

plane crash deaths Venice

Wreckage from plane crash.
Venice Police Department

FAA records show that Christian had not been a pilot for a long time, having earned his license on July 21, according to the ABC station WWSB.

In his most recent Facebook post, Christian reflected on making his first solo trip on March 21.

I flew solo for the first time today! Felt so proud to finally achieve something I’ve been wanting to do since I was 8 years old.” he wrote, sharing that he began taking lessons the previous December and was about halfway through the process of getting his private pilot license.

“Thanks for putting up with my early morning lessons and late night studying Misty Kath; it will all feel worth while when we can fly to the Keys for a weekend away with Lily and Harper soon,” he added.

In a comment, his wife replied, “So, so proud of you!!! I cannot wait for all our flying adventures.”

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The single-engine Piper PA-28 crashed shortly after its 7:30 p.m. takeoff from the Venice Municipal Airport in Florida on Saturday, according to a statement from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that was previously obtained by PEOPLE.

2 Dead, Including a Child, After Plane Crashes in Gulf of Mexico

2 Dead, Including a Child, After Plane Crashes in Gulf of Mexico

Venice Police Department/Facebook

The victims, who had traveled to Venice for dinner in the rented aircraft, was returning to St. Petersburg that evening when their plane crashed into the ocean, Chief Charlie Thorpe said at a press conference on Monday, via ABC affiliate WFTS-TV.

An investigation was launched the next day after the FAA asked Venice police to check with the airport for the overdue airplane, police said.

That morning, recreational boaters found the floating body of an adult woman in the Gulf about 2.5 miles west of Venice Beach, according to police.

After spotting the plane’s wreckage about a third of a mile offshore in approximately 15 feet of water, divers found the juvenile inside, Thorpe said at Monday’s press conference.

The National Transportation Safety Board is in charge of the investigation, according to the FAA.

Additionally, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Sarasota Police Department, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the District 12 Medical Examiner’s Office are all assisting with the search and the crash scene.