Pilot in crash off Waikiki ‘doing OK,’ scheduled for surgery
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Pilot in crash off Waikiki ‘doing OK,’ scheduled for surgery

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    Carri Collins-Pothier, right, with her husband, Matt Pothier, on her Facebook page.

The contracted pilot who ejected from a vintage military jet not far from Waikiki Wednesday is scheduled to have surgery today to fuse two vertebrae in his back, his wife said.

Pilot Matt Pothier, 47, “is in great spirits and the girls and I are doing fine. We are just so thankful that he is still here with us and that no one else was injured in the accident,” Carri Collins-Pothier said on Facebook.

She said her husband is scheduled to have surgery today at 1 p.m.

Collins-Pothier said on Facebook Wednesday night that her husband, a contracted pilot with the Airborne Tactical Advantage Co, or ATAC, “had a problem with his engine during takeoff” and had to eject from his plane at sea off Kewalo Basin.

“For 23 years I have dreaded getting a call like I did (Wednesday), she said. “Thankfully it was Matt himself who called to tell me he was all right. He is doing OK with no life-threatening injuries. He has been smiling and laughing with all of his many visitors.”

She added, “We are truly overwhelmed (in a good way) by all the calls, texts and messages. We feel the love.”

Pothier’s Hawker Hunter, painted in camouflage, shocked two boatloads of parasailors at about 2:25 p.m. when it appeared to develop trouble and slowed like it was going into a stall before the pilot ejected and the aircraft crashed and rapidly sank, witnesses said.

Hawker Hunters, a British single-seat fighter, first flew in 1951.

Mack Ladner, a crew member on the X-treme Parasail boat, jumped in the water and helped Pothier untangle himself from his parachute and get to an arriving Coast Guard boat.

The jet was part of the Hawaii Air National Guard’s “Sentry Aloha” fighter training exercise, which is scheduled through Dec. 19.

Matt Pothier said on his LinkedIn page that he lives in Ewa Beach and is operations manager in Hawaii for ATAC, which provides former military jets and pilots to help train U.S. military pilots against “aggressor” or mock-enemy fighter aircraft.

The U.S. Air Force is among services that have their own aggressor squadrons, but there are not enough to meet the demand and contracted fighter training is often more economical.

Pothier said on LinkedIn that he is a former Navy aviator who was executive officer for NATO headquarters in Sarajevo from 2011 to 2012 and officer-in-charge of the U.S. Navy Landing Signal Officer School from 2012 to 2014.

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