A Navy surveillance plane flying in rainy weather overshot a runway Monday at a military base in Hawaii and splashed into Kaneohe Bay, but all nine aboard were uninjured, authorities said.
The Coast Guard responded, but rescue operations were quickly called off, said Petty Officer Ryan Fisher, a Coast Guard spokesperson. “It sounds like all parties involved were rescued,” he said.
Marine Corps spokesperson Gunnery Sgt. Orlando Perez had no information about what caused the P-8A Poseidon aircraft to go off the runway at s.
A photo taken by witness Diane Dircks showed the plane in water just offshore, a sight reminiscent of the 2009when a passenger jet piloted by Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger made an emergency landing on the New York river. All 155 people aboard survived.
The P-8A and the Airbus A320 that Sullenberger piloted are roughly the same size.
Dircks and her family had just returned to the dock after rainy weather cut their pontoon boat trip short when her daughter noticed the plane in the water.
“We went running over to the end of the dock, and I took some pictures,” she said.
Dircks, who is visiting from Illinois, said her daughter keeps a pair of binoculars on her for birdwatching, so she was able to see the plane and the rescue boats arriving.
“It was unbelievable,” she said.
The Honolulu Fire Department received a 911 call for a downed aircraft shortly after 2 p.m., spokesperson Malcolm K. Medrano said in an email. It was cloudy and rainy at the time. Visibility was about 1 mile, said Thomas Vaughan, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Honolulu.
The P-8A is often used to hunt for submarines and for reconnaissance and intelligence gathering. It is manufactured by Boeing and shares many parts with the 737 commercial jet.
The plane belongs to the Skinny Dragons of Patrol Squadron 4 stationed at Whidbey Island in Washington state. Patrol squadrons were once based at Kaneohe Bay, but now deploy to Hawaii on a rotational basis.
Marine Corps Base Hawaii is about 10 miles from Honolulu on Oahu. The base houses about 9,300 military personnel and 5,100 family members. It’s one of several key military installations on Oahu.
Aircraft expert Peter Forman told Hawaii News Now the runway at the base is shorter, and bad weather and winds may also have played a part.
“The pilot probably didn’t put the plane down exactly where he wanted to on the runway,” Forman said. “It’s probably a combination of all those factors put together.”
The base sits on Kaneohe Bay, which is home to coral reefs, a breeding ground for hammerhead sharks and a University of Hawaii marine biology research institute.
The military surrounded the crash site with booms to keep any leaked fuel from spreading, but did not offer any assessment of any possible environmental damage, Hawaii News Now reports.
“I’m so glad that everyone was rescued and survived the crash,” Kahaluu resident Jonee Kaina told the station. “But I think someone needs to take a look at the impact the plane is doing to our marine life. There is jet fuel, anti-freeze and other toxins.”