HILO, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) -
He has two broken legs, broken bones in his face, and stitches above his eye and knee, but 21-year old Michael Dowsett knows how lucky he is.
The UH-Hilo student is also a student pilot. He was at the controls Tuesday when the Cessna 172 went down just inside the fence line of the Hilo International Airport.
Dowsett says he, another student pilot, and the flight instructor -- who friends identify as Dale Scharpenberg -- took off from the airport at 12:53 p.m.
Dowsett says he was flying the plane in preparation for an exam Friday. He says he had been in the air for about an hour when the engine started losing power.
"There was no time to declare an emergency," Dowsett said from Hilo Medical Center.
He says the instructor took over the controls. There were homes in their path so they had to bank hard.
"It was just so fast," Dowsett says, "I could see the blades of the grass."
He said the pilot said to him, "We've got a problem."
"It was so surreal," Dowsett described thinking it was the end, "I thought, game over."
As he said that his parents, who were sitting next to him during the interview, began to cry.
His mother. Susan Dowsett, is a former official at the Honolulu Police Department, "It's hard hearing him say that," she says.
After the plane crashed, Dowsett says he was able to climb out of the plane, despite having two broken legs. And was grateful when rescue crews arrived.
Dowsett's doctors expect him to make a full recovery and say he could be released in the next week.
He says he has not been able to talk to the families of the other two on board. Both were critically injured and flown to the Queen's Medical Center. Dowsett says he has been very worried about both of them.
His father, Jay Dowsett, wants their families to know that they are thinking about them and praying that they recover soon.
Despite all of his injuries and the traumatic experience, Dowsett says he still wants to get his pilot's license. He will miss Friday's exam but hopes to continue. His parents aren't thrilled by that statement but say they support whatever decision he makes.