Pilot Who Made Emergency Landing In Bay Talks To 10News

Plane Made Emergency Landing Saturday In Water In Front Of Hilton Bayfront Hotel

One of the pilots who made an emergency landing in San Diego Bay shared his experience with 10News on Sunday.

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The small plane went into the water at about 4:30 p.m. Saturday in the bay in front of the Hilton Bayfront Hotel, near the San Diego Convention Center.

"You prepare for it, but you don't ever want it to happen," said the pilot, who was only identified as "Ron." He has been flying since 1975.

The plane, which is used by Aerial Advertising, was flying a banner that read, "Honor our heroes," an ad for the Midway Museum. Also on board was another pilot who is a retired Marine colonel.

The plane's owner told 10News that the plane stopped getting speed and that there was a vibration before the engine cut out at 600 feet in the air.

"After the engine failure… it was just a matter of dropping the banner, get a little better glide out of it… There was no way I was going to make land," said Ron.

He said they knew they had to land on San Diego Bay. They managed to glide the plane on the water's surface before it went into the water.

"Once we're in the water, it was just a matter of getting the door open and getting the seatbelts off and got out of it," said Ron.

Salvage company Vessel Assist San Diego pulled the plane out of the bay early Sunday.

"I don't know what happened to the plane or why it went down but I mean, for the most part, the plane's intact," said Robert Butler, who is with Vessel Assist San Diego.

Divers told 10News they were shocked to see the plane in such good condition because it is made of a thin aluminum shell.

"Apparently, they swam out of the cockpit themselves," said Tony Olson, who is also with Vessel Assist San Diego. "The doors were both open when we went down there and the headphones were hanging out the side of the airplane."

The solid landing on San Diego Bay may be why the two men on board were able to crawl out of the sinking plane.

The men, who were both uninjured, were rescued by good Samaritans on passing boats. They were transferred to a U.S. Coast Guard rescue boat and cleared medical examinations. They were taken to the Coast Guard station and later went home with family.

"Two people walked away from it… nothing better," said Butler. "I mean, it's just property. The people who walked away from it are the most important thing."

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