Friday, July 24, 2015

Lynn's Comments: The three canoeists immediately realized the danger they were in. They extracted themselves from their seatbelts, opened the doors of the aircraft and climbed out.

Rod, who was the only one wearing a life jacket, was able to get out as well--just before the plane submerged. Freezing and afraid, the four men sat on the Cessna's upturned floats and tried to consider their options. It looked as though the plane was drifting to shore, but it was soon evident that the tail had hung up on the bottom of the lake and the plane was staying in the same position, just pivoting around in the bay.

As hypothermia began to affect them, they had no choice: one of the men had to go to shore and get the canoe. They chose the strongest swimmer, gave him the only life jacket, and watched as he swam slowly through the choppy water to the shore.

Exhausted and ready to collapse, he untied the canoe. He had the presence of mind to put a can of Avgas aviation fuel that had been left on shore into the canoe. He climbed inside and shoved off (without paddles) towards the helpless aircraft.

It was a miracle, they all said later, that the canoe drifted back to the plane. Everyone carefully climbed into the canoe. The swimmer, now unconscious, was slowly revived as the canoe, now floating freely, drifted to the opposite shore of the bay. This was another miracle.

They managed to gather some dry willow, and with the aid of the Avgas they soon had a tiny fire going. They knew that their wet clothes were lowering their body temperatures, so everyone stripped down to nothing and, surprisingly, they felt warmer. This was a test for survivalists, and luckily, my husband was with men who truly measured up.

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