A Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircew locates a downed aircraft inverted in Crillon Lake, in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska, July 18, 2018. The National Park Service requested Coast Guard assistance in locating the pilot of the aircraft, who was found and hoisted from a Crillon Lake shore with minor injuries. (U.S. Coast Guard | Courtesy Photo)

A Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircew locates a downed aircraft inverted in Crillon Lake, in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska, July 18, 2018. The National Park Service requested Coast Guard assistance in locating the pilot of the aircraft, who was found and hoisted from a Crillon Lake shore with minor injuries. (U.S. Coast Guard | Courtesy Photo)

Man survives plane crash into lake

Pilot’s injuries minor as he escapes plane, swims to shore

Thanks in part to prior preparation, a man is safe after his plane flipped and crash landed in a lake in Glacier Bay National Park on Wednesday.

According to a release from the U.S. Coast Guard, the small plane appears to have suffered an in-flight engine seizure above the national park. The pilot, according to the release, was able to swim to shore where he was rescued by a Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew and National Park Service responders. The plane was about 10-20 yards from shore, according to the release.

The man suffered only minor injuries and had no major medical concerns, according to the release, and he was taken to Air Station Sitka. Coast Guard responders found the man, who was not identified, on the shore of Crillon Lake where his plane had gone down. A Coast Guard photograph showed the upside-down plane drifting in the blue-green water of the lake, with only its tail, body and landing gear visible.

The man was found on the shore with a survival bag that allowed him to have dry clothes and fire-starting materials. Petty Officer 1st Class Mark Newkirk, the flight mechanic on the case, said the man’s prior preparation made it possible for him surviving mostly unscathed.

“Being prepared is the key to survival in any emergency situation,” Newkirk said in the release. “He set himself up for success by having a plan and being prepared for the situation with the extra clothing, bear spray, shelter, and a fire, which allowed us to safely locate and transport him to safety.”

This is the third successful rescue and fourth attempted rescue in Glacier Bay National Park in the span of a week. On Friday, July 13, a man went overboard from the Holland America Westerdam in the park and was not located. The following day, Coast Guard and NPS responders rescued two hikers, one of whom was injured. The day after that, the Coast Guard again assisted with a rescue, this time of four kayakers whose boats had flipped in the bay. All four were rescued and were without any major injuries.


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


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