Pilot forced to ditch plane near Hawaii

October 7, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A pilot who took off from Monterey was forced to ditch his plane in the Pacific on Friday.

About 400 miles from Hawaii, he radioed that he was running on fumes. The plane took off from Monterey, but just 13 miles from the Big Island, the fuel tank ran dry forcing him to land in the ocean.

The pilot was attempting a flight that according to its specifications tested the planes range to its limit.

The 65-year-old man was flying in a T-310 R twin-engine Cessna to Hawaii Friday afternoon. He radioed the FAA which notified the Hilo Coast Guard to tell them the pilot was low on fuel and would soon run out. Lt. Gene Maestas spoke to ABC7 from Hawaii.

"When the pilot was approximately 400 miles out, the Coast Guard C-130 went out to rendezvous with him and we basically guided him in the entire way talking to him," said Maestas.

A little before 9 p.m. Pacific Time he ditched the plane about 13 miles north of the Big Island.

"He was able to ditch his aircraft safely and crawl out onto the wing of his aircraft where a Coast Guard rescue swimmer from a helicopter, that was trailing this entire revolution, was able to get to him quickly recover him and now they have taken him to the Hilo Rescue Center," said Maestas.

According to its flight specifications, the plane has a maximum range of up to 2,300 miles. The distance from Monterey to where the pilot was heading, Hilo, is 2,315 miles. He was able to ditch just 13 miles short of his destination.

The Coast Guard in Alameda was also monitoring the drama. Coast Guard Petty Officer Sandra Rivera says the man is unhurt.

"His condition was good. There were no injuries or anything like that," said Rivera.

The Coast Guard tells us they coached the pilot for an emergency water landing. They dropped flares in the water to create a temporary runway in the ocean and told him how to land parallel to the waves. That's what made his landing one from which he could walk away.


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