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Wed, May 16, 2012

Boater Rescued By Floatplane Pilots

Had Fallen In And Was Treading Water Near His Circling Boat

A boater who had fallen from his 14 foot fishing boat into the 45-degree water of Pokegama Lake near Grand Rapids, MN, last Monday was rescued by a trio of floatplane pilots who happened to notice his boat in a "death circle" on the lake below ... one rotation every six to eight seconds.

The story is related in a blog written by well-known flight instructor Max Trescott. Pilot Rusty Eichorn had flown his Cessna 180 floatplane (similar airplane pictured in file photo)  home after practicing water landings with his girlfriend earlier in the day, and was getting ready to put the airplane away when a friend asked for a demonstration of some new Garmin GPS and radio gear that had been a gift from Eichorn's girlfriend Lynn. The additional flight made it pure serendipity that the three were flying over the lake and noticed the boat in distress.

After calling 911 from the plane, Eichorn, who has 3,600 of his 4,500 hours in floatplanes, landed the Cessna near enough to the boat to be able to haul 20-year-old Alexander James Higginbotham on board. He said the bolts holding the seat to the boat had let go, tossing him into the water.

Eichorn taxied the airplane to a dock about a mile away where Higgenbotham had apparently launched the boat, but he said it was the wrong dock, and so they step-taxied the plane to the Grand Rapids Golf Course, where they were met by ambulances.

Higginbotham's body temperature had reportedly dropped to 91 degrees. He was treated for hypothermia ... and charged with boating while intoxicated.



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