A Florida pilot had a frightening experience in the Everglades on Tuesday when he crash-landed his plane deep in the marsh early in the morning. The pilot, who remains unidentified, waited alone on the plane’s wing for hours in the gator-infested waters before being rescued. Working with the Brower’s County Sheriff’s Office, first responders with Miami-Dade Fire Rescue were able to locate the injured pilot and hoist him into a helicopter. He was then flown to a local hospital for treatment.
Video footage captured by MDFR shows the pilot alone on the wing with the rest of the plane mostly underwater. He’s wearing a tourniquet on his leg, which he fashioned himself to minimize blood loss from the injuries sustained in the crash.
“To be able to seemingly walk away with just a leg injury after putting an aircraft down in the Everglades with the thick brush is an amazing feat in itself, and we’re very grateful that he’s OK,” BCSO Fire Chief Michael Kane told CBS-Miami.
Kane also confirmed the timeline of events with Outdoor Life. He says the sheriff’s office first received a call about the plane crash at 10:01 a.m. on Tuesday. They were unable to reach the remote location of the crash by airboat, so they contacted MDFR, which quickly dispatched a helicopter to the area.
“[Within 30 minutes of] the time the patient was located, the patient was in the process of being rescued,” Kane says.
By that point in the morning, however, the pilot had already spent six hours alone in the swamp. FlightAware tracking information shows that he took off in the small plane near Lake Okeechobee around 3 a.m. on Tuesday and then crashed into the Everglades roughly an hour later. The single-engine Cessna went down in southwestern Broward County approximately 4 miles to the west of Mack’s Fish Camp, according to MDFR.
The crash is being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board. An NTSB spokesperson says a full report will be made public sometime in the next 30 days.
Kane says that the plane is believed to be from a flight school in the Miami area. It’s registered to Custom Air International, with its address listed at the Miami Homestead General Aviation Airport, according to the FAA registry. The Sun Sentinel reached out to the Pilot Training Center, which operates out of that airport. The reporter was told that, “Everything is fine, the pilot is fine, thank you very much.”