FAA Flight Standards District Office: GRAND RAPIDS
AIRCRAFT ON LANDING ON A FROZEN LAKE, BROKE THROUGH THE ICE AND WAS PARTIALLY SUBMERGED, MURRAY LAKE, LOWELL, MICHIGAN
Aircraft Make: AMERICAN LEGEND
Aircraft Model: AL3
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
GRATTAN TOWNSHIP, MI -- A pilot is grateful for the help of a Murray Lake resident after his ski plane broke through the ice and partially sunk.
The Murray Lake resident, identified as Dave Emaus, used a kayak to shimmy out onto the ice and rescue a cold and wet Jim Bakeman from the single-engine plane.
Both men then used the kayak as a weight distributor to slide their way back to shore on the ice.
Bakeman, 59, had been doing take-offs and landings on several Kent County ice-covered lakes, including Bostwick and Wabasis lakes, and the ice thickness was not an issue.
At Murray Lake, he landed uneventfully and was turning to take off again when the ice gave way. He later learned he was at the deepest part of the spring-fed lake, making the ice thinner and unsafe.
As the plane began to sink, the cockpit began to fill with water. Bakeman, an orthopedic surgeon, climbed out of his door and was in icy cold water up to his chest before scrambling on top of the engine compartment and wing fixture.
Bakeman's plane is a single-engine American Legend AL3C aircraft built in 2008. He's been flying for about 10 years.
He said he figured the ice was safe because there were ice fishermen on the various lakes.
Bakeman said he's grateful for Emaus' help, because he wasn't sure how he would make it off the plane and to shore without breaking through more ice. And he already was wet in temperatures in the low teens.
Bakeman wasn't immediately certain how the plane would be retrieved from its precarious position.
He was able to joke about the adventure later Saturday, referencing the adage "any landing you can walk away from is a good one."
"I guess here it's any landing you can swim away from is a good one," he said.
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