BAYTOWN, Texas Friends are relieved two men who crashed their plane in the Gulf of Mexico returned alive to Baytown Airport after a rescue by the Coast Guard.

One of the men, Theodore Wright is, has been flying planes since he was 19-years-old.  And yet what happened to him and friend Raymond Fosdick over the Gulf of Mexico Thursday was a first.

It stunned everyone at Baytown s airport when they got word from the FAA.

We look out for each other and we immediately wondered what happened to the airplane, said Bobby Clark, a mechanic who knows Wright.

We saw a note on the (office) door and I figured maybe he fell off his boat or something, said Aaron Kurtz, who also knows Wright.  I didn t have a clue it could have been an aircraft accident.

Wright was flying his Beechcraft 55 Baron and he and Fosdick were headed for Sarasota, Florida. It s a trip Wright has made several times before. This time, however, something caught fire at 11,000-feet and forced Wright to land 28 miles off Louisiana s coast into the Gulf. 

Both men survived the impact. They floated for two hours until a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol plane saw them in the water. A Coast Guard crew based in New Orleans pulled Wright and Fosdick to safety.

They are sore, but okay.

Fosdick credits Wright for making a perfect crash landing.

The cockpit was just filling with smoke and immediately reached down, and threw off the AV master and began a descent and about that time the fire, it was just all through the cockpit, said Fosdick.

I wasn t real surprised, Clark said.  I was glad (Wright) was able to motor under his own power and everything. So, evidently he did real well with landing the aircraft on water like that.

Folks who know Wright well are relieved and anxious. Next year, he d planned to fly his plane around the world raising money for kids with cancer. Without a plane, that trip appears to be in jeopardy. But friends find it hard to count him out.

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