(SAN DIEGO, Calif.) — A sunny Memorial Day weekend flight ended in a panic as a small single engine plane slammed into the San Diego Bay, narrowly missing a waterfront hotel and shocking onlookers.
The plane, a cessna-152 operated by Aerial Advertising, was flying a banner that read “Honor our Heroes” over the USS Midway aircraft carrier Saturday.
At about 600 feet in the air, the engine shuddered to a stop.
One of the two pilots on board, Ron, who wanted to be identified only by his first name, said the pair knew right away they were in serious trouble.
“You prepare for it, but you don’t ever want it to happen,” he told ABC News San Diego affiliate KGTV.
“After the engine failure… it was just a matter of dropping the banner, to get a little better glide out of it… There was no way I was going to make land,” Ron said.
Thinking quickly, they lined up with a clear portion of the bay and glided to startling, but safe landing.
“It was just a matter of getting the door open and getting the seatbelts off and getting out of it,” Ron said.
Nearby boaters and the Coast Guard quickly came to their rescue and the two escaped without injury.
Paul Parcel, one of the good Samaritans who helped rescue the men told KGTV that he knew the plane was in trouble before it even came down.
“I saw the airplane turn from the Midway,” Parcel said the station. “I noticed that he was losing altitude and he kept coming down lower and lower.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Ray Sanchez, CNN Newswire
Chuck Johnston, CNN Newswire