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Coast guard rescues two men after plane crash-lands off Nanoose Bay

Jul 16 2012

Two men were rescued from the waters off Nanoose Bay Sunday morning when their plane crash-landed.

“We got a call from Nanaimo tower that an aircraft had declared a mayday by Schooner Cove, outside of Nanoose,” said Jeff Olsson, marine co-ordinator with Victoria’s Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre. He said the call came in at 8:45 a.m., about 10 minutes after the plane left the Nanaimo airport.

The two men were flying an ultralight plane and the cause of the crash is unknown, Olsson said. He added that the plane was home-built.

“You order it and put it together,” he said.

B.C. Ambulance was on scene to take the two men to hospital after they were rescued, Olsson said.

However, the men declined and instead were driven back to the airport, where their vehicles were waiting, said Greg Dunn, manager of Schooner Cove Marina.

“They were fine when they got back to the dock,” Dunn said.

Dunn had offered to help the coast guard when he heard what was happening.

“I asked if we could be of assistance,” he said, “so [we] started toward Maude Island, where the reports were.”

While Dunn was en route, it was reported the men had been rescued by a coast guard boat dispatched from French Creek.

 “We met them on the dock and took the two men up to our office and gave them dry, warm clothing and coffee,” Dunn said.

He said the men had been on their way to Gillies Bay on Texada Island.

“They were 2,000 feet in the air and they started having engine trouble,” he said. “The pilot did a fantastic job of putting the plane in the water because there were no injuries. He skidded the belly of the plane on the water.”

Dunn said the two men were in the water for 25 minutes before being rescued.

“If that happened in the wintertime, it would have been a lot more drastic,” Dunn said, adding that the coast guard saved lives on Sunday. “It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.”

Nanoose Bay is between Nanaimo and Parksville.

cclancy@timescolonist.com

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