HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Honolulu Fire Department (HFD) and Ocean Safety lifeguards responded to a downed aircraft approximately 200 yards offshore from Maili Point.
It happened at approximately 9:10 a.m. on Thursday, June 24.
Ocean Safety said lifeguards paddled out to assist the 57-year-old pilot but the man was able to swim 50 yards to a reef and was later escorted to shore by lifeguards and HFD.
According to Emergency Medical Services (EMS), the plane lost power and glided into the water offshore. The vintage aircraft, reported to be a Romanian Yakovlev, initially floated but then sank in approximately 10 feet of water.
It started off as a normal day for Barbara Billand, who was at the beach to take photos of monk seals, but what she got instead were photos of the plane before it went down. Billand was about half a mile away when she saw the plane in the air.
“But the plane made a turn, and another turn, and it started going down, down. And I told my husband that plane crashed, I know it did,” said Billand. “I see the pilot looking over like he wanted to land, and I thought something is not right. So I just kept snapping.”
The aircraft landed on the water, where officials found it submerged about 200 yards offshore from Maili Point.
“The plane went down, and he immediately got out, and when we got here, he was almost to shore already,” said Honolulu Ocean Safety Lt. Mac Hall. “There were a couple of surfers that he landed really close by, so really glad no one got hurt.”
One of those surfers was Stan Livingood.
“All of a sudden, I hear ching, ching,” he said. “I started getting scared because he was coming right at me. I see the propellers zing, zing.”
Livingood was amazed at the pilot’s smooth landing, given the circumstance.
“He gets out, and he’s super calm, and I can see that he looked like he was okay because he looked more remorseful for losing his plane, his baby. At least he’s okay,” said Livingood.
KHON2 briefly spoke to the pilot, former mortuary owner Claus Hansen.
“I’m fine and thank you everybody who did help out,” said Hansen.
KHON2 News asked him if he knew what happened.
“Yeah, I lost power, that’s it,” he said.
The State says it has been alerted about the crash and will investigate once the plane is salvaged. The U.S. Coast Guard will work with the pilot on salvaging the aircraft.