U.S. Coast Guard cameras captured the dramatic moment a pilot was forced to ditch his single engine aircraft in the Pacific Ocean – and lived to tell the tale.
The pilot, whose name has not yet been released by the Coast Guard, set out in his Cirrus SR-22 single engine aircraft from Tracy, California Sunday morning.
At 12:30 p.m., he radioed the Hawaii National Guard and told them he was experiencing a fuel problem, and would have to ditch his plane approximately 230 miles north east of Maui.
Watchstanders at the Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu directed him to fly towards a cruise ship, The Veendam, which happened to be in the area, and could assist in rescue operations.
A couple hours later, with his fuel gone and land still hundreds of miles away, the pilot made his attempt to ditch the plane in the Pacific Ocean, which had seas of nine to 12 feet and winds of 25 to 28 mph.
At 4:44 p.m. the pilot deployed the aircraft’s airframe parachute system, which managed to slow his descent into the choppy seas.
A Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules captured the man’s plunge into the ocean, communicating with him throughout as well as coordinating with The Veendam to rescue the stricken pilot.
Luckily, the man was able to ditch his craft without any issue, and exited his plane in a life raft before it rolled over in the surf and submerged.
The crew of The Veendam were then able to retrieve the pilot, who was reported to be in good spirits.