HONOLULU – The pilot of a single engine Cirrus SR-22 aircraft that ran out of fuel is safe after ditching his aircraft 253 miles northeast of Maui, Hawaii Sunday.
At approximately 4:44 p.m. the pilot was able to deploy the aircraft’s airframe parachute system and safely exit the aircraft into a life raft.
Watchstanders at the Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu identified the cruise ship Veendam, en route to Lahaina, Maui, and coordinated the pilot’s ditch near their location. It was a coincidence and a blessing both craft were heading to the same place.
At 5:21 p.m. the crew of the Veendam rescued the pilot. The pilot was reported to be in good condition. The plane was last observed partially submerged.
Weather conditions at the time of the rescue were seas of 9 to 12 feet and winds of 25 to 28 mph.
The Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane from Air Station Barbers Point assisted the pilot during the process of ditching his aircraft and maintained communications throughout the ditching process. The Hercules crew remained on scene until the pilot was safely aboard the Veendam.
The flight originated in Tracy, California and was destined for Kahului Maui. Wikipedia shows the maximum range of the SR-22 at 1,049 miles. The distance from Tracy, CA to Kahului is 2,389 miles. That tidbit is likely to be part of the pending investigation.
At 12:30 p.m. the pilot contacted the Hawaii National Guard and reported his aircraft had approximately three hours of fuel remaining and he would be ditching 230 miles north east of Maui.