Published November 21, 2007
TACOMA, Wash. – All three people aboard survived when two small planes collided mid-air on Tuesday, with one safely landing at a nearby airstrip and the other going down in Commencement Bay, authorities said.
Boaters recovered two people from the water, and neither was seriously injured. They were described as a man and his mother, who was in her 70s.
The cause of the collision about 12:30 p.m. was under investigation.
The pilot of the single-engine American Champion that ditched in Commencement Bay flew out of a downward spiral and made a relatively soft landing on the water, Tacoma Police Detective Thomas Williams said.
"The pilot did good. No one appears to be really hurt. They lost some property. We can always replace property," Williams said.
The other plane, a single-engine Cessna 182, landed at Thun Field in Puyallup, about 10 miles southeast of Tacoma, with damage to the housing of one of its landing gears, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said.
The pilot of that plane, Bud Williams, said he was flying home to the Port Angeles area when the planes clipped.
"Came out of my right side, which is out of my blind spot, and I just had a chance to pull up before we hit," Bud Williams told KOMO-TV. "It was quite a hard hit. My first reaction was, 'Where's the other plane?"'
He said he saw the other plane spiraling toward the water after the impact.
Bud Williams, who said he's been flying for about four years, was the only one on board his aircraft and was not injured.
The identities of the mother and son aboard the downed plane were not released by a local hospital, but both reportedly were OK.
The pilot of that plane was taking his mother to nearby Gig Harbor for lunch when the collision occurred over the bay that sits west of Tacoma's port, Thomas Williams said.
After landing, the man and woman climbed out of the plane and hung on until it started sinking. They were quickly rescued by a passing boat. Thomas Williams said the plane sank in 400 feet of water less than a mile off the shore of Tacoma's Ruston Way.
Coast Guard and police boats patrolled the area of Commencement Bay where the plane went down looking for debris, but no oil or fuel was found leaking from the plane Tuesday afternoon, Thomas Williams said.