JFRD: Pilot rescued by Kayaker, no injuries reported

By Brittany Jones

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department said a small seaplane with just the pilot on board flipped upside down after attempting to land in the St. Johns River near the Dames Point Bridge.

Officials said the man flying the seaplane was rescued by a kayaker and was not hurt. 

The incident happened as severe storms rolled in around noon Sunday. A kayaker spotted the pilot as soon as his plane flipped.

The wings of the small seaplane are barely sticking out of the water and were partially submerged in the St Johns River.

Jeffrey Rancour immediately came to the pilot’s rescue. “I went out fishing. I was coming back to get out of the storm and a guy flipped his plane over,” said Rancaur.

Rancour said he immediately went to rescue the man near the Dames Point bridge.

He said the pilot was already standing outside of the plane and he paddled him back to shore.

It’s unknown what caused the plane to flip but severe storms and high winds were likely a factor.

Charlie Farnsworth is a friend of the pilot.

“I just happened to be watching News 4 on my phone and I see it near the water. We called his wife and said, ‘Hey, something happened,’ and she said, ‘Yea,’ so, we went to see if we could find him and see where he’s at,” said Farnsworth.

The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department said the aircraft was a single prop seaplane.

“I’m really happy that guy survived, and someone was there to help him. It could’ve been (a) much worse outcome,” said nearby resident Evan Baker.

Friends of the pilot, whose name hadn’t been released, said he’s a skilled pilot.

“He is a good friend of ours. He’s a good man. He’s been flying for years. He’s a commercial pilot. I’m just kind of shocked that he went down,” said Farnsworth. But Farnsworth is thankful his friend wasn’t hurt.  “The last thing you want to see is a friend of yours get hurt,” he said.

The National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating to figure out exactly what happened and the agency said Florida Air Recovery will pick up the plane.

The single-engine plane is registered to Daytona Consulting Incorporated.