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Sat, May 29, 2004

85 Year Old Pilot Crashes in Bay, Walks Away

"There was no place on land to land ... so I took the water."

The Traverse City Record-Eagle (MI) is reporting that an 85 year old man managed to land his Bede BD-4 (file photo below) homebuilt aircraft on the shores of East Grand Traverse Bay with such skill that he managed to walk away from the crash. Just a short distance away into the bay, authorities noted that he would have probably quickly died from exposure due the low temperature of the water.

"You don't have time to choose," said pilot Paul Kauffman of Traverse City. "You have two or three options, and you pick the best one. There was no place on land to land without hitting a house or car or something or people - so I took the water."

Kauffman, who has been flying for some 50 years now, had taken off from Cherry Capital Airport to fly his homebuilt airplane. About 400 to 500 feet from the ground, he knew he was in trouble.

"I don't know what happened," he said. "I lost power and (there was) nowhere to go but up into the lake." He put down the plane at 7:50 PM in just a few of water about 300 feet into the bay. The aircraft was described as a total loss by Kauffman.

IDENTIFICATION
  Regis#: 115PK        Make/Model: EXP       Description: BEDE IV EXP
  Date: 05/26/2004     Time: 2351
  Event Type: Accident   Highest Injury: Minor     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Unknown

LOCATION
  City: ACME State: MI Country: US

DESCRIPTION
  ACFT ON TAKEOFF, LOST POWER AND CRASHED INTO THE GRAND TRAVERSE BAY,
  1950EDT, ACME, MI

INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   0
                 # Crew:   1     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   1     Unk:   
                 # Pass:   0     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   
                 # Grnd:         Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   

WEATHER: 2353Z 01004KT 10SM FEW250 13/04 A2973                                      
                                                                                    
OTHER DATA
  Activity: Pleasure      Phase: Take-off      Operation: General Aviation
  Departed: TRAVERSE CITY, MI           Dep Date: 05/26/2004   Dep. Time: 2349
  Destination: TRAVERSE CITY, MI        Flt Plan: UNK          Wx Briefing: N
  Last Radio Cont: DURING DEPARTURE
  Last Clearance: RY 10 CLD FOR T/O

  FAA FSDO: GRAND RAPIDS, MI  (GL09)              Entry date: 05/27/2004

FMI: http://www.record-eagle.com/2004/may/28pilot.htm

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