Pilot OK after small plane lands in ocean off Hawaii

The incident happened after takeoff from Honolulu.

Honolulu. Feb. 2, 2016. KHON.
Honolulu, Hawaii, as seen from the Pacific Ocean. A pilot safely landed on the water, after take off from Honolulu International Airport. Feb. 2, 2016. (Photo courtesy KHON).

HONOLULU, Hawaii (KHON) – A small plane has landed in the ocean after encountering problems off Honolulu.

Officials say the pilot, a 68-year-old man from Australia, took off from Honolulu International Airport in a twin-engine Cessna 337 when he alerted the airport tower at around 12:15 p.m. that something was wrong.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the pilot was unable to get the landing gear down. Officials say he even flew past the tower to show crews on the ground the issue.

The plane was held over the airport to burn fuel, and the pilot was given the choice to make an emergency landing on the runway or in the water.

He opted for a water landing. A DOT spokesman said the aircraft landed on a seaplane runway at around 2:22 p.m. He was the only person on board.

The Honolulu Fire Department said rescue crews happened to be conducting a training exercise in the area, and were readily available to help him. The scene was frantic on the water since crews couldn’t predict exactly where the pilot would land.

Once the plane came to a stop, witnesses burst into cheers and first responders sprung into action.

Some called the pilot a lucky man, and said it could have been much worse.

“At least he has his life and he can go from there. He can always get a new airplane, but you can’t replace pilots,” said Sean Rita, who saw the incident.

According to Emergency Medical Services, the pilot was treated at the scene and did not need to be taken to the hospital.

“Fortunately, this gentleman didn’t have one scratch on him,” said Shayne Enright, Honolulu Emergency Services spokeswoman. “He actually told me to tell all you guys all he wanted to do was call his wife, so it’s a happy ending. Everybody did a great job and we’re very, very fortunate here today.”

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