Pilot describes crash landing, dire moments in Gulf

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by Drew Karedes / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on September 21, 2012 at 10:26 PM

Updated Friday, Sep 21 at 10:31 PM

HOUSTON—A pilot is talking about his, and a friend’s, survival after they both crashed into the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It happened on Thursday about 28 miles east of South Pass.

Theodore Wright and his passenger had taken off from a small airport in Baytown and were on their way to Sarasota, FL. About halfway into the journey, something went terribly wrong.

The two men began noticing smoke in the cockpit. They soon saw what was causing the smoke when they opened the doors of the Beechcraft 55 Baron 11,000 feet in the air.

“It was about that time he yelled flames, flames, fire!” explained Theodore Wright. “The fire in the cockpit is the number one nightmare for a pilot.”

Wright said he had no choice but flip off the power and point toward the water.

“We bounced hard once. The next time we landed, the water stopped us pretty quickly,” said Wright. “Just about the time we were clipping his jacket on, we were about neck deep in water, airplane nose down first and the tail sticking out.”

The two spent more than three hours in the water. The situation increasingly became more dire.

“I don’t know if we were stung by jelly fish or Portuguese man of war. It was like a bee sting on our feet occasionally, two, three, four times a piece,” he recalled. “I’m watching the sun go down and I know we have only 30 more minutes of daylight, and I know if those guys don’t pick us out in the next 30 minutes, we’re spending the night there.”

It didn’t look good.

Before hope faded entirely, a custom and border patrol plane spotted the men. The Coast Guard was soon hovering overhead, hoisting the men to safety.

“I said they’re here, they’re here, and my friend [asked] where, where, where are they?[I said] 12 o’clock! It was an emotional moment for us,” added Wright.

Wright and his friend were taken to a Coast Guard Center in New Orleans. Both were sore, but escaped with no injuries.

Wright said he couldn’t be happier to be back home in the Clear Lake, TX, area. However, he is upset about what happened to his twin-engine plane. He was planning on using the plane to fly around the world and visit children who have cancer.

Wright said he still hopes to make that happen in 2013.

Click here to learn more about Wright’s planned flight.

 

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