Plane crash survivors recall harrowing experience

September 22, 2012 5:11:41 AM PDT
Two Clear Lake-area men were rescued from the Gulf of Mexico after a plane crash. Now, they're telling us what that unimaginable experience was like for them.

As investigators try to figure what caused the crash, the two men are sharing their stories.

The pilot and his passenger left the Baytown airport around 1:15pm Thursday, and there was a time they thought they'd never make it back. But they remained calm and the Coast Guard says they were well prepared.

"I had an airplane that the landing gear wouldn't come down on. I've had a radio that gave a little bit of smoke. I've had instruments that failed," Pilot TR Wright said.

Wright can quickly rattle off all of his difficulties in the cockpit, but none come close to what he faced Thursday afternoon.

"We made it to the halfway point and there was smoke in the cockpit, which as a pilot, that's your worst nightmare," he said.

Wright and his friend were flying from Baytown to Sarasota, Florida when about 30 miles off the tip of Louisiana and over the Gulf of Mexico there was trouble.

"I could see flames back there and now we were in trouble so I chopped the power on both engines, pointed the airplane straight for the water," he said.

Wright crash landed the Beechcraft 55 Baron. It wasn't a smooth landing.

"We kind of hit, bounced and then the second time we came down, the water just grabbed you," he said.

They were alive. The two grabbed survival supplies, flotation devices and for three hours waited for the Coast Guard to find them. Just before sunset, reality started to sink in.

"I said we have about 25 more minutes of daylight. If they find us in 20 minutes, we're going home tonight. If not, we're staying the night our here," Wright said.

Customs and Border Protection soon spotted the two, and the Coast Guard hoisted them from the ocean.

"I started thinking we're going to be able to have dinner tonight and I don't know if I'm going to get the T-bone or the rib eye," Wright said.

Wright's passenger, Raymond Fosdick, declined another plane ride Friday. Instead, we talked to him during a 24-hour bus ride.

"I think it was just good to stay on dry ground for the next couple of days," Fosdick said.

Wright though, an 11-year pilot, plans to get back up soon.

Both are incredibly grateful to their rescuers and perhaps also to someone or something else.

"In those situations, you kind of wonder maybe you have a little extra help so I guess I'll leave there," Wright said.

The plane quickly sunk to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, which is problematic for a number of reasons but especially because Wright uses that aircraft for his non-profit organization that offers free rides for children with cancer. He's now looking for a replacement for upcoming events.

By the way, Wright and Fosdick ate pizza that was provided by the Coast Guard.


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