Trevor H. Deihl, 23, of Reedville, Va., told officials he'd been flying his single-engine Cessna 172RG when the plane started having engine problems, Maryland State Police said.
Deihl brought the aircraft down toward the water and skidded for several feet before it stopped off an Ocean City beach.
Deihl was the only person inside and managed to get out. Paramedics treated and released him.
He reportedly had been flying from Reedville to the Ocean City Airport when the engine trouble began. The plane has been recovered, and the Federal Aviation Administration was notified of the incident.
Ocean City is about 140 miles southeast of Washington, D.C.