Plane crashes into Lake Gaston

April 20, 2009 4:33:14 AM PDT
A seaplane designed to land smoothly on water wound up under a lake Sunday.The splash landing happened just south of the Virginia-North Carolina border on Lake Gaston near Goat Island and Pontoon Point around 10 a.m. Sunday.

Investigators tell Eyewitness News the two seater plane left Halifax County Airport Sunday morning and the pilot was trying to practice landings on the lake when something went wrong.

The pilot and his wife were aboard during the attempted landing.

Investigators say the plane flipped after hitting the surface hard. The water is about 60 feet deep in the part of the lake that the plane went down.

A bass fisherman who heard the impact rushed out to rescue the pilot and passenger.

Life vests kept the couple afloat in the water until the fisherman could reach them. When he got them safely to shore, they called 911.

The pilot's wife was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

The pilot stayed at the scene assisting authorities as they worked to get equipment under the plane that could help it float to the lake's surface.

Rescue boats were seen by Chopper 11 HD trying to fish the plane out of the water. It was later towed to shore.

While the search for what caused the crash continues, investigators tell Eyewitness News it may be an example of pilot error.

"He's a licensed pilot, all of his credentials are in order and up to date," said Lt. John Reams with NC Wildlife Commission.

It's not the first time for a crash in the lake.

"I've been here 21 years, and this is the third," Reams said.


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