A Cessna light aircraft has experienced a severe engine failure off the Sunshine Coast of Queensland in Australia, leading to an emergency ocean landing.
This high-stakes incident unfolded approximately 35 nautical miles northeast of the Sunshine Coast around 9 a.m. local time, on November 10, 2023.
The Cessna 421C Golden Eagle II aircraft was flying from Maroochydore to Pago Pago in American Samoa when it experienced engine problems, resulting in the loss of function of one of its engines.
Realizing it would not make it back to land, the aircraft’s pilot initiated fuel dumping and issued a distress call, setting the stage for a controlled ocean landing.
The two male passengers, aged 59 and 51, were able to escape from the plane and cling to a sinking life raft.
A nearby aircraft, from the Royal Flying Doctor Service, noticed their plight and circled the crash site, assisting rescue teams in finding them.
The controlled ditchings of light aircraft usually have a high success ratio, with survival rates around 90%, according to Aviation Safety Magazine.
However, the recent incident off Queensland’s Sunshine Coast was made more difficult by the life raft slowly submerging in water. The rescue teams had to locate and reach the survivors quickly before the raft sank completely, adding an extra degree of urgency to the rescue operation.
Responding rapidly to the emergency, the RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter crew spotted the aircraft’s tail and the men in the water. The rescue operation was executed seamlessly, with the men winched to safety.
Both men survived the ordeal unharmed. They appeared to be in good spirits, as evidenced by the thumbs-up gestures they gave to the rescue crew.
Following the rescue operation, the men were taken to the Sunshine Coast University Hospital for precautionary checks.