A 57-year-old pilot who swam safely to shore Thursday after ditching his private plane said he was mostly disappointed that he lost his single-engine aerobatic aircraft.
Honolulu’s first responders assisted the pilot, whose plane lost power and landed in the ocean off of Maili Point on Oahu.
The emergency call came in just after 9:10 a.m. for the downed plane and pilot.
Honolulu Ocean Safety, Honolulu Emergency Medical Services and the Honolulu Fire Department responded to the call. Although lifeguards paddled out and responded by personal watercraft, the man was able to swim to shore on his own.
HFD said the plane initially floated, then sank in an area about 10 feet deep and about 50 yards offshore.
EMS evaluated the man on shore and found he had no injuries. He declined further medical treatment.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the plane involved is a two-seat Yakovlev Yak-52. The FAA is investigating the incident.
The U.S. Coast Guard will work with the pilot on salvaging the plane.
KITV news identified the pilot as Claus Hansen of Makiki, ex- husband of KITV anchor Diane Ako.
Hansen told the TV station he was doing aerial stunts and had just finished a loop when he felt something go wrong.
“I lost partial power. I kept trying to nurse the throttle. I radioed, then looked for a place to set down. I spotted a big field but it had antennae and wires,” Hansen said.
Hansen said he decided the safest place to come down was in the water. “The prop that hit the water first split apart. As far as I can tell, the airplane was intact.”
“I opened the canopy, stepped out, stood on the wing. It was sinking. I stepped into the water, away from the airplane,” Hansen said. “I’m bummed more than anything else that it happened.”
Hansen’s plane was manufactured in 1982. The Yakovlev 52 was developed in the Soviet Union before its production was transferred to Romania, according to RED Aircraft GmbH, an aviation engine manufacturer in Germany.
“The Yak 52 was developed as a basic training aircraft for pilots in the former Warsaw Pact countries,” RED Aircraft said.
The aircraft is the descendant of a long line of radial- engine aerobatic trainers used to train Soviet pilots for nearly 50 years, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association said in a past feature on the plane.
“It’s a big Russian Bear of an airplane, a ‘get out of my way’ heavy-gauge aluminum brute that is almost truck-like in sound, ride and power,” AOPA said, adding that “raw power, a warbird ambiance and crisp aerobatic performance are all hallmarks of the Yak 52.”