Pilot whose jet crashed off Honolulu meets good Samaritan who jumped in water to save him

Pilot whose jet crashed off Honolulu meets good Samaritan who jumped in water to save him
(Image: Courtesy)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The 47-year-old pilot whose fighter jet crashed off Honolulu this week was able to meet Friday with the man who jumped in the water to help him after he ejected from the aircraft.

Matt Pothier is recovering after undergoing surgery for serious injuries sustained in the crash, which happened during the Sentry Aloha military exercises.

And in the hospital Friday, Pothier was able to personally thank Mack Ladner, of Extreme Parasail. Moments after the crash, Ladner jumped into the water from his vessel to stay with Pothier until the Coast Guard arrived.

Pothier’s wife, Carri Collins-Pothier, said her husband is recovering well and in good spirits.

He suffered a spinal injury in the crash, and is now in undergoing physical therapy.

Pothier also took to Facebook to express his gratitude for everyone that’s helped him and provided support. In the post, he writes, “You’ll see me in the skies, the water, and the rink soon.”

Thank you so much everyone for your kind thoughts, wishes, and prayers. A big thanks to the first responders and...

Posted by Matt Pothier on Friday, December 14, 2018

The NTSB is investigating the crash of the Hawker Hunter aircraft, which happened Wednesday about three miles south of Honolulu’s airport.

Pothier told his hometown newspaper in Andover, Mass., The Eagle Tribune, that he knew something was wrong with the fighter jet shortly after takeoff.

He said he saw a lot of boats in the water, aimed for a safe place to put the plane down and then ejected.

Crews are working to salvage the craft, and the NTSB hopes to issue a preliminary report within 10 days.

Pilot of military aircraft appears responsive in moments immediately after crash

Pothier is a civilian contractor who was flying the British-made Hawker Hunter aircraft as part of the Sentry Aloha exercises. The plane that crashed was owned by Airborne Tactical Advantage Company, which was contracted by the Navy.

ATAC spokesman John Zentner said they’re also investigating what might have gone wrong.

“For first 24 hours here, our company’s focus has been on the safety and well-being of the family,” he said.

"We reached out to offer support to the pilot’s family and are working with relevant authorities to determine cause of crash, but cannot speculate at this time as to the cause.”

Pothier is a former U.S. Navy pilot with 21 years of service and studied foreign affairs at the Naval War College.

His wife said he has over 4,200 tactical aircraft flight hours, 750 aircraft carrier landings, and has flown over 100 combat missions.

The Hawaii Air National Guard hosts Sentry Aloha. Some 800 people and 30 aircraft from nine states are participating.

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