Sight-seeing pilot fished from the ocean off HMB

By on Fri, January 30, 2009

A pilot was fished from the ocean after his single-engine plane crashed 7 miles off Half Moon Bay, reports the Chronicle.

The pilot had rented an Aeronca Champion - a two-seat, fixed- wing plane - to spend the day sightseeing. He had flown alone out of Reid-Hillview Airport in San Jose. But just around 3 p.m., his engine failed and he issued a mayday alert before plummeting into the water, said Coast Guard Lt. Lane Steffenhagen, who coordinated the rescue efforts from S an Francisco International Airport. ..

A Coast Guard station in Point Reyes had picked up his mayday signal, and a Coast Guard helicopter in the area dropped a life raft, which the man was able to reach. Air National Guard helicopters out of Moffett Field were in the area performing training exercises. One of those helicopters released a cable with a sling on the end that the pilot was able to buckle around his upper body. They then raised him into the helicopter.

In all, the man was in the water about 20 minutes. Steffenhagen said the water temperature was around 49 or 50 degrees and that survival time in that temperature would be about an hour. He was suffering from severe hypothermia, and his body temperature had dropped to 92 degrees.

The pilot was treated for hypothermia by paramedics at SFO after it was discovered that Stanford Medical Center’s helipad could handle the Air National Guard helicopter.  There is video at the Chron’s site.