COAST GUARD AIR STATION BARBERS POINT, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The owner of the Cessna 172, which was ditched in Hawaiian waters Sunday night, says the pilot did an excellent job and it's a miracle all four passengers on board, including a baby, survived the emergency landing in the ocean.
"What he did was something you don't walk away from. He had very little flight time, didn't really have a bag of experience to draw from," said Reggie Perry, owner of Barbers Point Flight School.
Perry says the pilot, Jose Manzano, has only about 75 hours of flying time. He says the 37-year-old Schofield soldier got his license about a year ago from Barber's Point Flight School.
"He started with us last year from the beginning and worked his way up and achieved his private pilot license. He was a good pilot so I let him rent a plane from time to time," Perry said.
The U.S. Coast Guard says Manzano reported the single-engine aircraft was running out of fuel about 30 miles west of Oahu and that they may have to ditch.
Perry says he saw Manzano fill up before he left Barbers Point. So when he got the phone call, he was confused.
"I thought he was doing a flight by himself. And when they told me that he had three people on board I was a little taken back because I didn't know he had gone to Lihue," he said.
Dramatic video from the Coast Guard shows the rescue firsthand 11 miles west of Oahu. You can see the Coast Guard helicopter lower its rescue swimmer and rescue basket into the ocean and pluck all four survivors out of the water.
"Seeing the small child and seeing how small and in fact young it was, was emotional. But you just get it done and get them out of there so it's over from them," said rescue swimmer Donnie Walker.
“Biggest thing I was happy to see was that baby coming up with those huge eyes," AMT3 Jake Traba said with a smile on his face.
The first passenger off the helicopter at Barbers Point was the baby followed by her mother. Then Manzano, who raised his hands victoriously. And lastly, the 24-year-old male.
All four people, including the one-year-old girl, suffered only minor injuries.
“I don't think that anyone could ask for a better end to that story. You put a plane into the water like that, all four go in and all four come and everyone walked away. I think that's a pretty good day," Walker said.
The Federal Aviation Administration and The National Transportation Safety Board are conducting investigations.