The civilian contractor pilot of a Hawaii Air National Guard aircraft is listed in serious condition after his plane went down Wednesday during a military exercise known as “Sentry Aloha.” The exercise was temporarily suspended after the crash, but resumed on Thursday.
The Hawaii Air National Guard was the host of the exercise, which included 800 personnel and 30 aircraft from about 9 states, according to Military.com.
The pilot contractor was flying a Hawker Hunter jet. It crashed at about 2:25 p.m. just off the coast of Oahu shortly after takeoff from the Reef Runaway at Honolulu airport. The cause of the crash is under investigation.
“The pilot of the Hawker Hunter jet ejected safely from the plane, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam said in a statement. He was initially rescued by a private sailboat and then transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard.
Honolulu Emergency Services spokesman Dustin Malama said the 47-year-old appeared to have traumatic injuries and was taken to a hospital.”
The pilot was identified as 47 year old Navy veteran Matt Pothier, who was a fighter pilot while in the US Navy. Hawaii News reported that he was overheard saying that both of his engines cut out during takeoff. According to Hawaii News Now, his wife said his injuries are not life-threatening and he was in “good spirits” while in the ER.
He was first rescued by a Parasail operator named Mack Ladner, who jumped into the water to help him until the Coast Guard arrived. One parasailer who was in the air came extremely close to the crash.
“When I got into the water, I was asking him, are you OK? And he said yeah, my back hurts from the compression. He had a little bit of blood coming out, I think it might have been from the impact because he was going pretty fast.” Mack Ladner, who helped untangle Pothier from the parachute.
Hawaii News Now reported,
The plane was owned by Airborne Tactical Advantage Company, which is a civilian “tactical airborne training organization.” A company spokesman said they are investigating.
Rescuers, including the Coast Guard and members of the Honolulu Fire Department, remained at the scene of the crash into the late afternoon.
The Coast Guard is currently maintaining a 300-yard safety zone perimeter around the crash site amid the ongoing investigation.
Featured photo of Mack Ladner in the water with the pilot: screenshot via Nedra Muir-Lowery cell phone video