airboat removes leaking plane


posted: 14 October 2011
by: Nicole Johnson

Investigators returned to the scene of an emergency plane landing to figure out why the pilot was forced to land it in the marsh. Pilot Terry Huenefeld was able to safely land the twin engine piper plane just off Horlbeck Creek Thursday after 2 p.m.

Charleston County Rescue Squad took investigators by airboat to the landing site.

airboat removes leaking plane

airboat removes leaking plane

“FAA requested our assistance along with DHEC to go back out to the crash site. The airboat has got a large helicopter engine on the back. It will carry eight people, and it will go through the marsh, dry mud, sand, gravel,” Duty Officer Lamar Watkins said.

Sea Tow of Charleston shows a closer look at where the plane skidded in the grass, and came to a stop in a nose ward down position. It appeared that the main components of the plane’s body were intact.

An FAA spokesperson says their investigators will help gather information to provide to the National Transportation Safety Board, and then the NTSB will determine what caused the emergency landing.

Another big concern of authorities on the scene was whether or not the plane was leaking any fuel. The Coast Guard was called out to control any spills.

“With the amount of fuel on board I don’t think it would be very detrimental to marine life, but any fuel can’t be good, so the coast guard is here to prevent that,” Sea Tow assistant manager Doug Miller said.

Coast Guard officials say there was a small amount of fuel seepage from the plane and estimate about 100 gallons on board. They say because it is aviation fuel it runs off quickly and won’t be a major threat to the environment, but it will be cleaned up.

Officials expect the plane to be removed from the area within 24 hours, but not at the expense of local government agencies.

“None whatsoever. It will be up to the insurance company and whoever owns the plane to remove that from the marsh area,” Watkins said.

It’s not an easy task to pull a plane like this from the marsh. Sea Tow of Charleston says their crew members will help rig the plane and use a helicopter to remove it from the marsh this weekend. Tow companies say this retrieval costs insurance companies thousands of dollars. All the fuel will be emptied before the plane is towed.

The pilot and a passenger on board the plane were not injured at the time of the landing. The plane was currently being repossessed when it made the emergency landing.


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