Pilot safe after ditching single-engine airplane off Maui

Lue Morton deployed a parachute to land safely in the water. (Photo: U.S. Coast Guard)

The pilot of a single-engine Cirrus SR-22 that ran out of fuel is safe after ditching his aircraft 253 miles northeast of Maui Sunday.

At approximately 4:44 p.m., the pilot was able to deploy the airframe parachute system and safely exit the aircraft into a life raft.

He was picked up by a cruise ship, Veendam, that was en route to Lahaina, at 5:21 p.m. He was reported to be in good condition.

“The pretty unique thing about about a Cirrus is that the aircraft itself has a parachute on board,” said rescue co-pilot Lt. j.g. Michael Carman of the U.S. Coast Guard, “so the aircraft orbited and when they were 5,000 feet above the water, slightly in front of the cruise ship, they deployed their parachute.”

The aircraft is now partially submerged.

At 12:30 p.m., the pilot contacted the Hawaii National Guard and reported his aircraft had approximately three hours of fuel remaining and he would be ditching 230 miles northeast of Maui. He was flying from Tracy, Calif. and headed to Kahului.

The Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane from Air Station Barbers Point assisted the pilot during the process of ditching his aircraft and maintained communications throughout the ditching process.

The Hercules crew remained on scene until the pilot was safely aboard the Veendam.

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