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Tue, Jun 20, 2006

Pilot Safe After Ditching In Atlantic

Rescued By Passing Tanker

A Florida man credits the crew of a Liberian oil tanker for saving his life after his single-engine plane developed engine problems on a flight from St. John's to the Azores this weekend.

Troy Hess was about 80 minutes into the transatlantic flight Saturday when it became clear he'd be making a water landing. A search-and-rescue crew guided Hess to the tanker Tomsk, which was on station about 60 miles west of the Hibernia platform on the Grand Banks.

"It takes a lot more luck than skill ... I was extremely lucky," Hess told Canada's CBC News.

Hess guided the plane to a safe landing, and was able to keep the plane right-side-up in the ocean waves. After some fretful moments exiting the plane as it sank in the salty water, Hess clung to the wing as he tried to inflate his life raft.

By that time, however, the Tomsk was on the scene... and its crew threw the man a life preserver.

"If it wasn't for the ship and its crew, there's no way ... I would have been able to survive," said a grateful Hess... who added he doesn't want to attempt an Atlantic crossing again, unless the plane has two engines.

"I think I've reached my limit," he added.

FMI: www.liscr.com

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