The pilots of a cargo plane made a desperate and daring nighttime emergency landing on water early Friday and miraculously survived. They were plucked from the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Hawaii by first responders.
One of the two pilots was found clinging to the tail of the wrecked aircraft while the other was rescued clutching a floating package amid the debris scattered across the waves.
“The pilots had reported engine trouble and were attempting to return to Honolulu when they were forced to land the aircraft in the water,” the Federal Aviation Authority said in a statement.
The pair were flying a decades-old Boeing 737-200 cargo flight, Transair Flight 810, taking off from Honolulu at 1.33am local time bound for Maui’s Kahului airport, but quickly turned back toward Honolulu, according to aviation data from FlightAware.com.
Shortly after, the coast guard responded to reports of the downed plane south of the island of Oahu with two people on board.
Around 2.30am local time, a coast guard helicopter located the wreckage. Searching for any survivors, the rescuers found one pilot grasping the tail of the down plane and airlifted him to hospital.
The other survivor was spotted on top of some floating packages and was picked up by a Honolulu fire department rescue boat and taken ashore. Both are being evaluated by doctors.
The risk of pilots and any crew being killed in emergency landings on water is huge, especially at night and especially in the open ocean.
Boeing said it was “aware of the reports out of Honolulu, Hawaii, and are closely monitoring the situation. We are in contact with the US National Transportation Safety Board and are working to gather more information.”
The airplane was built by Boeing in 1975, according to FAA records. The plane was first delivered to Pacific Western Airlines and joined Transair’s fleet in 2014, according to Flightradar24.com.