“Neither boy thought twice about running into the water where there was fuel in the water, they just charged ahead to try to save that pilot.”
When a small airplane crashed into the waters of California’s Huntington State Beach, it was two teens who rescued the pilot inside.
The single-engine Piper Cub plane was said to take a sharp nose-first dive into the water and flipped over around 1:50 p.m.
The pilot was able to climb out of the cockpit but was disoriented and grasping onto the side of the plane.
Thankfully, his plane crashed on the same beach where the CSLSA California Surf Lifesaving Championships were being held.
Fifteen-year-olds Jake Shaffer and Aidan Arie, who are both captains in the Huntington Beach city junior lifeguard program, immediately sprung into action.
One grabbed a board and paddled out to the plane while the other swam out toward the pilot who was in a state of shock.
“It was scary to me in the situation, because he wasn’t responding to me,” Jake told Inside Edition.
In the meantime, Aidan surveyed the scene to make sure it was safe.
“When I got 15 to 20 feet away from the plane, I just started looking around and making sure the whole scene was safe and everyone was OK, because I knew Jake had the guy handled,” Aidan said.
Jake was able to get the pilot onto the paddle board and do a quick assessment. The man had a small cut on his head but wasn’t responding since he was in shock.
Adult lifeguards quickly ran over and took over the rescue to get the pilot to shore, then to seek medical attention.
The teen then washed off to make sure they didn’t have any airplane fuel before returning to the competition where they won first place in the swim relay race.
“Even if you don’t want to be a lifeguard, the junior lifeguard program is great to learn how to be prepared in any situation and to have water safety,” Arie told The Orange County Register.
While the two teens had been training as lifeguards since they were 9 years old and prepared for several different types of rescues, responding to a plane crash was something totally new for them.
Needless to say, everyone, including their moms, was very proud of them.
“Neither boy thought twice about running into the water where there was fuel in the water, they just charged ahead to try to save that pilot,” Aidan’s mom said.
The plane ended up being pretty banged up from the crash and was eventually towed out of the water by a tractor south of Lifeguard Tower 15.
The pilot wasn’t identified but the plane was registered to Van Wagner Aerial Media, a Florida-based company that makes and flies aerial banners.
The plane was shown to have left Compton-Woodley Airport around 10:45 a.m. and flew along the coast of Malibu and made several circles around Dodger Stadium before crashing into the water.