MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Emergency crews say one person was rescued Tuesday evening after they responded to reports of a plane that crashed in the water near Myrtle Beach State Park.
Tuesday evening, the FAA issued a statement confirming a Mooney MO20 crashed into the water one-half mile off the coast of Myrtle Beach around 5 p.m.
“Something hit the airplane, or it felt like something hit the airplane, and the engine stopped so that’s when I knew something was a problem,” said David Pace, who said he was flying the airplane from Myrtle Beach to Charleston.
Lt. Jonathan Evans, spokesperson for Myrtle Beach Fire, says the small plane went down between Springmaid Pier and the state park.
Pace said he couldn’t turn back to Myrtle Beach International Airport because he was flying too low and too slow.
“Really the only option was to go straight ahead into the ocean because the beach was full of people,” he added. “Then you just try to land it like you land it on the ground and it worked out this time.”
Pace said he prepared for the landing on the water like he would prepare for a normal landing and the plane floated in the water for a few minutes.
“I was able to get out and get out on the wing but I was a lot further out than I anticipated being so when the airplane sunk I had to start swimming,” said Pace.
A few helicopters were able to drop him a life preserver while rescue crews were arriving on the beach.
“He was swimming hard, fighting against the current a good half mile out from the beach itself,” said Jeremy Bass from Oceanfront Helicopters. Three of his pilots arrived on the scene in minutes.”The pilot, I gotta say, he did an excellent job. I could tell he did an excellent job by the aircraft position and the fact it didn’t come apart.”
Pace has been flying for forty years and was on a trip for his business, Premier Metals Recovery LLC, when the plane when down.
“I didn’t consider it a crash,” he said. “I consider it a forced landing because the plane didn’t crash. I’m not injured I’m in good shape.”
Pace plans to take about a week off and then get back in the sky.
“Every time something happens with an airplane, even though it’s very rare, it’s news all over the place and then people talk about how unsafe airplanes are but I’ve been flying for 40 years and I’m still here and never hurt anybody,” he added.
A tweet from Horry County Fire Rescue sent at 5:15 p.m. states Horry County Fire Rescue, Myrtle Beach Fire Department and Surfside Beach Fire Department responded to the scene.
The FAA says they will investigate and the NTSB says they are also gathering information.