On a typical day, OceanFront Helicopters provides tours to vacationers in Myrtle Beach.
On Tuesday, the company found itself involved in a life-saving tour of duty.
“Air traffic control contacted us that the plane had gone down,” OceanFront Helicopters owner Jeremy Bass said, referring to a private general aviation aircraft that landed in the ocean between Myrtle Beach State Park and Springmaid Pier on Tuesday afternoon.
Once notified, the company deployed a helicopter and found that the plane was floating in the water with the pilot standing on the wing of the plane
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“The plane appeared to float for maybe seven or eight minutes, give or take,” said Bass.
Bass said one helicopter continued to fly over the plane in order to mark the location of the pilot in the ocean.
During that time, two separate off-shore emergency equipped helicopters, which hold flotation devices including pop-out floats and life vests, were deployed. One of these helicopters was able to get right up to the surface of the water.
“When that helicopter arrived on scene, one of our pilots took one of his life vests out the pouch and threw it to the pilot,” said Bass.
At that point, the pilot was able to lie back in the water, where he waited about 10 minutes for a jet ski to come and pick him up and transport him safely to shore, Bass said.
“We got to him just in time with the life jacket, and thankfully the big guy upstairs was looking out for him,” he said.
According to Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue deputy fire chief Tom Gwyer, the pilot took off from Myrtle Beach International Airport and had engine trouble over the ocean, where the plane crashed into the water.