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VIMS Research Vessel Rescues Downed Plane

Research Vessel Bay Eagle rescued a pilot and their passenger after the plane was forced to make an emergency landing in the Chesapeake Bay on Monday, June 14. (Courtesy of VIMS)

Editor’s Note: This is an update to a previously published developing story from June 14, 2021.

CHESAPEAKE BAY — A Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) research vessel was in the right place at the right time to rescue a pilot and a passenger after the pilot was forced to make an emergency landing in the Chesapeake Bay on the afternoon of Monday, June 14.

According to Dr. David Malmquist, news and media director for VIMS, two of the institute’s research vessels, RV Bay Eagle and RV Virginia, were approximately two miles south of Wolf Trap Light and off-shore from New Point Comfort, when Captain Voight Hogge of RV Bay Eagle spotted a Diamond DA20 single engine aircraft that was forced to land after experiencing engine trouble. The pilot purposely put the stricken plane down in the water within sight of RV Bay Eagle. Hogge noted that the passengers were conscious and clinging onto the wreckage of the plane.

Captain Hogge notified his crew and immediately began steering towards the aircraft. The crew, which included Dive Safety Officer Paul Richardson, and researchers Jameson Gregg, Gregg Mears and Cameron Ward, were able to pull both the pilot and the plane’s passenger aboard the research vessel using life rings and Lifeslings just before the plane sank into the bay. According to a press release from VIMS, wave height was less than one foot at the time of rescue.

After rescue, the plane sunk beneath the water to a depth of approximately 25 feet.

After rendering first aid for minor injuries aboard ship and notifying the Coast Guard of the incident. After an approximately two hour return voyage to Gloucester Point, the crash survivors were met by first responders from the Abingdon Volunteer Fire and Rescue, Virginia Marine Police and Virginia State Police.

The cause of the accident is still under investigation.

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