The U.S. Coast Guard says the aircraft went down around 3 p.m. in Moriches Inlet, near the eastern end of Fire Island.
The news of the plane crash first came from fisherman in the area. They reported a low flying plane that appeared to be trying to make an emergency landing on the beach.
Local, state, and federal investigators are trying to figure out why the plane took a nose dive. They say it is a complicated puzzle to solve, because the pieces are submerged in water.
Underneath all of the Coast Guard and Fire Department rescue boats, a small plane is submerged 30 feet below, perched upside-down on a rock jetty. Good Samaritans tried to stop the vessel from sinking by using a rope to tie the plane to a car, but it wasn't enough.
"The plane is submerged, and the souls were lost," said Mastic Fire Department Chief Robert Ubaldo.
Police won't confirm how many people were on board, but the Coast Guard tells Eyewitness News that the plane had at least two passengers.
Several eyewitnesses said they saw the plane take a nose dive.
Dave Fridae, who was walking on the beach, says he saw a flock of birds fly directly into the plane.
"In front of me was a group of 100, maybe 150 seagulls," said Fridae, "the seagulls went straight up, and the plane went through them. Instantaneously, the plane went straight up, and then dropped straight down."
Teams of divers spent much of Saturday trying to get to the victims as day turned to night. Investigators brought in heavy machinery to help with the recovery.
"The plane is in about 19 feet of water. Basically right up against the rocks, submerged in the inlet," said Robert Ubaldo.
As for the people on board the plane, investigators have not released their identities, or said where they were going.
Anyone with any additional information on the crash is asked to contact the Marine Bureau at 631-854-8382.
Get Eyewitness News Delivered