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Sat, Aug 24, 2019

Pilot, Passenger Take Selfies While Plane Sinks

Pilot Blames Contaminated Fuel For Causing The Accident

The pilot and passenger of a Beech Bonanza that was being photographed over San Francisco Bay found themselves in cold water after the plane's engine failed and they were forced to ditch in the bay.

The Bonanza was owned by David Lesh of Denver, CO, who had recently purchased the aircraft. He had asked a friend and fellow pilot, Owen Leipelt, to shoot some air-to-air video of the plane over the Golden Gate Bridge. But the photo shoot turned into a rescue mission when the Bonanza lost power.

Television station KNTV reports that Lesh, who has a large social media following and a reputation of being something of a daredevil, and a female passenger who was not named, were able to exit the airplane before it sank. Leipelt was able to notify the Coast Guard, but it was still more than half an hour before a rescue was made. While in the water, Lesh and his passenger shot selfies while they treaded water and waited for the rescue helicopters.

Some have suggested that Lesh ditched the airplane on purpose as a publicity stunt, but he has vigorously denied doing so. He said he spent $250,000 on the airplane and another two months and about $40,000 to upgrade it. "That's my baby. I had no interest in ruining my new airplane and putting it in the ocean," he said.

Lesh said he believes that the accident was caused by contaminated fuel. The Washington Post reports that he says he drained the tanks of water and sediment during pre-flight, but now believes he did not get it all.

(Images from YouTube)

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