Man ditches plane into ocean off coast of Hawaii after running out of gas


Photo courtesy of CNN

A 65-year-old man flying from California to Hawaii was forced to ditch his plane in the Pacific Ocean on Friday night, Oct. 7, 2011, the U.S. Coast Guard said. 

CNN Wire Service

A 65-year-old man flying from California to Hawaii was forced to ditch his plane in the Pacific Ocean on Friday night 13 miles off the coast of Hilo, Hawaii after running out of gas, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The man was flying for delivery a Cessna 310 twin-engine aircraft from Monterey, Calif., to Hilo when he radioed federal aviation authorities that he was 500 miles out and low on fuel, said Petty Officer Third Class Angela Henderson, a spokeswoman for the Coast Guard.

He estimated he would run out of fuel 100 miles short of the island, according to a Coast Guard statement.

The Coast Guard deployed rescue crews aboard a C-130 Hercules and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter to intercept the pilot and escort his plane with the hope of coaching him to a safe landing, said Coast Guard Lt. Gene Maestas. A Coast Guard ship was also at the scene.

The plane didn’t make it, running out of fuel as the pilot had predicted.

“The pilot ditched his airplane at approximately 5:23 p.m. and climbed out of the cockpit onto the wing,” the Coast Guard said in a statement.

Video released Saturday by the Coast Guard shows the small aircraft skimming along the water before coming to a stop. It eventually settles and floats in the water, seemingly intact and with its nose pointed in the opposite direction from which it came.

A man is then shown being pulled from the water toward the helicopter.

After being rescued, the pilot was transported to Hilo Medical Center for evaluation, Henderson said.

“He was reported to be coherent with no significant injuries,” the statement said.

American King Air Services, an airplane ferry service, said on its website Saturday that the pilot had “successfully ditched.” It said that he is “in good condition,” and that the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident.

The plane was registered to the Mount Pleasant, S.C., company. Neither American King Air nor the Coast Guard immediately released the pilot’s identity.

“We are waiting right now to hear from the Coast Guard about the aircraft,” Pablo Bassabe, a company vice president, told CNN.

Hilo is about 2,300 miles west of Monterey, where the pilot’s flight began.

According to the aviation site, Cessna 310 aircraft have a range between 760 to 1955 miles, depending on various factors including cruising altitude, weight, amount of reserve fuel and the specific model.