Small aircraft lands in water south of Oahu after experiencing mechanical issues

Web Extra Video: Aircraft makes emergency landing on the water
Published: Feb. 2, 2016 at 6:58 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 3, 2016 at 10:42 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An aircraft ran into trouble mid-flight Tuesday afternoon about five miles south of Oahu and was forced to land in the water.

The call for help came in around 12:15 p.m. from the Lagoon Drive area. Initial reports indicated that the pilot of a twin-engine Cessna 337 was experiencing mechanical problems and planned to ditch the aircraft in nearby Keehi Lagoon.

Hawaii News Now's camera crews were there as the pilot prepared to land after circling around the lagoon for about two hours burning off fuel.

Authorities said the pilot, who was the only person on board, was unable to get the plane's landing gear down.

A team of emergency crews from the Coast Guard, EMS, and Honolulu Fire Department rushed to assist the pilot, who is uninjured.

Fellow pilots and aviation experts are calling it a textbook landing.

"It was back and forth about whether he should put it down in the water or on the ground in Honolulu. Both options are available here, so pick one and go with it and he made the right decision," said Sean Rita, a pilot who witnessed the water landing.

The 68-year-old pilot from Australia has been flying for more than half of his life. His friends said he has been in emergency landings before, both having to land in the water and on land, and it was because of those experiences they said he chose to land on water.

"They got him out of the airplane probably in less than a minute. And he's perfectly fine, no medical issues, so I can't say it was a bad decision," said friend and owner of the aircraft Mark Jones.

"He's a seasoned pilot and I know the instructor was working with him, and I'm sure they probably discussed some water landing, and that's why this event worked out perfectly and he survived the landing," George Hanzawa, aviation expert and owner of George's Aviation.

The Cessna sank within seconds. But emergency crews were already in the area waiting for him.

"We have some new jet skis that we're working on training with. We were in the area doing training, having personnel getting proficient with those watercraft, and it just so happen to be in the vicinity when the dispatch came out," said Capt. David Jenkins, spokesman for the Honolulu Fire Department.

The Australian pilot said he was OK and just wanted to go home and be with his wife.

Jones said he is working with the Coast Guard to get the aircraft out of the water as quickly as possible.

It is not known whether the National Transportation Safety Board will launch an investigation.

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