Amazing footage recorded by two pilots reveals the moment when a small plane crashed into the water off the coast of California on Aug. 20.
One of the two pilots, Owen Leipelt, recorded the video of his friend’s new Beechcraft Bonanza light aircraft as its engines failed forcing it into the water of Half Moon Bay.
Meanwhile, 34-year-old David Lesh, pilot of the downed airplane, recorded video with his water-proof phone of him and his unidentified passenger as they waded in the water, awaiting rescue.
During this time, Leipelt, while circling the crash site, contacted air traffic control to alert them of the situation, reported the Daily mail.
Lesh and his passenger remained in the water for 40 minutes before being rescued.
Lesh told NBC Bay Area, “I was probably 3,400 feet, did everything I could,” he said. “Couldn’t get the motor running and put it into the Pacific.
“We skipped along the water for a few hundred feet and the impact was very minimal, it was not hard at all and we immediately opened the door and got out onto the wing.
“We took a quick inventory of what was in the plane. I grabbed my cell phone and the keys to the car.
“I knew we had about 20 or 30 seconds before it sunk,” Lesh told KRON.
Lesh believes the plane’s malfunction was due to bad gasoline.
“The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) will investigate.” A spokesperson for the FAA told reporters.
“The NTSB is the lead agency and it typically takes the NTSB a year or more to determine a probable cause of an accident.”
Lesh—who also owns a clothing company and skis professionally—went on to say, “It got cold pretty quickly. After about 20 minutes or so, I started to freeze up pretty good.
“There was jellyfish everywhere. There was sunfish. There was whales breaching around us.
‘We just waited as long as we could on the wing. The plane went down, we got into the water. Jellyfish were stinging us the entire time we were in there.”
After purchasing the new plane, prior to the incident, Lesh wrote in a social media post, “After 9 years of unforgettable flying adventures around the US, Central America and the Caribbean, I’m putting my Lance up for sale.
“It’s time for someone else to enjoy it. I’ve got a new plane on the way, one that is faster and more capable, one that will facilitate my freedom and lust for punching holes in the sky.”
The initial purpose of the fateful excursion was to photograph Lesh’s new plane that he had purchased only weeks ago.
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Experienced an engine failure off the coast of San Francisco today during a photo formation flight, had to ditch into the ocean. Bobbed around getting hypothermia and stung by jelly fish for 45min. Huge thanks to the @uscg and @sjcspotter for coordinating the rescue, stoked to make it out without a scratch. I’ll put together a full video ASAP.
A post shared by David Lesh (@davidlesh) on
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, crews responded to the emergency call at around 6:15 pm Tuesday evening.
“We got the call, we responded immediately, headed directly out there and were able to find the orbiting aircraft and then find the people in the water,” said Lt. Cmdr. Joshua Murphy.
“The second pilot’s quick response to report the downed plane and remain on scene greatly aided the Coast Guard’s prompt response and ability to save two lives.”
A NTSB spokesperson noted that they are “currently monitoring this accident until the aircraft has been recovered.”
“At that point, NTSB will more than likely work with the FAA on assessing the damage to the aircraft and from that will make a decision as to whether the NTSB will conduct a full investigation,” he also mentioned.
Leipelt told KTVU, “Your heart sinks when you hear, ‘Mayday, I have no power’. It’s something you don’t want to hear, and it takes a second to kick in.”
“I had been circling him the whole time, from the time it impacted water. For about 10 minutes I couldn’t see him,” he added.
Lesh reportedly spent $200,000 on the new craft plus $40,000 in upgrades.