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Engine trouble forces pilot to land on lake south of Nanaimo

Fourth Lake is located about 40 kilometres southwest of Nanaimo. A pilot had to make an emergency landing after his plane lost power shortly after takeoff from Nanaimo Airport. - CFB Comox
Fourth Lake is located about 40 kilometres southwest of Nanaimo. A pilot had to make an emergency landing after his plane lost power shortly after takeoff from Nanaimo Airport.
— image credit: CFB Comox

Rescuers credit a float plane pilot's good airmanship and pre-planning for a successful deadstick landing and rescue on the weekend.

The incident happened shortly before noon Sunday moments after the float-equipped Cessna 185 lifted off from Nanaimo Airport on a flight to Bamfield.

The aircraft was flying at an altitude of about 1,400 metres when the engine quit, but the pilot, who has not been identified, was able to glide the aircraft to a successful landing on Fourth Lake, about 40 kilometres south west of Nanaimo.

Capt. Trevor Reid, spokesman for CFB Comox, said the pilot was equipped with the most up-to-date emergency equipment, but had just seconds to make correct decisions for a successful landing.

The pilot had also broadcast his emergency by radio when the engine failed, which was picked up by the crew of a commercial flight and passed along to the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria.

"He was able to quite skillfully land his aircraft on Fourth Lake and was able to get it to shore," Reid said. "Once ashore he set of his 406 megahertz emergency beacon."

The emergency beacon broadcasts GPS coordinates and information about its owner and the aircraft.

The signal was picked up by the joint rescue centre, which launched a CH-149 Cormorant helicopter and CC-115 Buffalo airplane from the 442 Search and Rescue Squadron based in Comox.

The helicopter crew picked up the pilot, who was not injured, at about 1 p.m. and returned him to Nanaimo Airport where he was met by his family, Reid said.

Reid credited the Cessna's pilot with good airmanship that included proper planning and making the right decisions when an emergency happened.

"He had all his gear there and he was ready to go," Reid said. "He was talking with the [search and rescue technicians] on the helicopter and said he had picked his flight path to Bamfield because of the number of lakes that were available just in case he had to make an emergency landing."

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