Key West Seaplanes®, the region's premiere seaplane charter company announces that two of its pilots went to the rescue of the pilot of a private aircraft that made an emergency landing on August 8, 2013 at approximately 5:30 PM EST. The incident happened in the waters near Key Largo, Florida.
A Key West Seaplanes® seaplane was making a ferry flight (with no passengers aboard) from Key West to Miami when the pilots operating the seaplane heard the radio call from a private pilot announcing he was experiencing engine trouble. Key West Seaplanes® pilots Julie Ann Floyd and Nikali Pontecorvo realized that the airplane reporting engine problems was not a seaplane, but a regular (wheeled) airplane that was not equipped to land on the water unless during an emergency situation such as this.
Pilot Floyd states, "We as seaplane pilots knew that we were in an unique position to possibly render assistance so we expressed our willingness to help to Air Traffic Control." She adds, "We then diverted our flight path to the location where the private airplane was experiencing trouble and followed that aircraft for a number of miles while communicating with ATC, personnel on the ground and also the pilot aboard the ailing aircraft. That pilot was hoping he would be able to guide the aircraft to a nearby airport for a runway landing but when he announced his engine had failed he was over water, nowhere near a runway." The pilot at this time announced to ATC that he would be making an emergency water landing (also known as a "ditch" procedure).
The Key West Seaplanes® seaplane then continued to follow the airplane making the emergency water landing, keeping a safe distance. Pilot Floyd said, "We watched while the pilot made a text-book, perfect emergency water landing and we then landed our seaplane beyond his touch down point on the water. I was really impressed with the pilot's skill to do everything just as all pilots are trained. The plane stayed upright and came to rest on the water, showing essentially no signs of damage to the fuselage." Pilot Pontecorvo adds, "We then taxied the seaplane over closer to his disabled, floating airplane. The pilot was out of the plane within just seconds of making the emergency water landing and was able to swim over to our seaplane." Pilot Floyd adds "He had no signs of any injury....no cuts, no scratches, no bruises. He was in good spirits and complained of no pain. He really did everything right. We were so happy to be in the right place at the right time to be able to offer our assistance. Flying seaplanes truly has it's advantages...landing on water to rescue someone will certainly convince anyone the value of having floats (pontoons) on a seaplane!"
The pilot of the private aircraft was transported by Key West Seaplanes® to a Miami area airport where he remained in good spirits and displaying no signs of injury. Pilot Pontecorvo said, "We have never met this guy before today. We're happy he's okay and we're glad we were able to help him. He did a really good job landing an airplane equipped with wheels on water". Floyd adds, "All pilots train for this and it just proves that the training works."
Key West Seaplanes® is based in Key West and offers flights all through the State of Florida,The Florida Keys as well as seaplanes to The Bahamas and Caribbean. The company was formed in 2009. Key West Seaplanes® Pilots Pontecorvo and Floyd have been flying in the Keys and surrounding areas for 21 and 10 years respectively. The pilots have received thanks and accolades from the FAA, Miami area Air Traffic Control and numerous other agencies for their performance in this rescue.
Key West Seaplanes® to Little Palm Island are a popular seaplane service. Many passengers travel from the mainland to Little Palm Island via Key West Seaplanes which allows them to bypass the long drive and traffic.