Pilot Survives 17 Hours After Crash

Fishing boat finds man after 15-mile swim

Jul 29, 2011
Outside Magazine

A New York pilot who crashed his private plane into Lake Huron, 14 miles off the coast of Michigan, tread water for 17 hours before a fishing boat rescued him Wednesday morning. Michael Trapp, 42, was flying to visit family in Wisconsin on Tuesday afternoon when the engine in his 1966 Cessna 150 plane failed. The 50-mile-per-hour impact blew out the plane's windshield and left Trapp no time to take a life jacket or rescue beacon before the plane sank. As afternoon turned into evening, Trapp could see fishing boats but was unable to reach them. By nightfall, he realized that his best chance for survival meant swimming. He ultimately swam some 15 miles, within sight of shore, before a strong current pushed him back into the lake. The effort left Trapp near exhaustion, but around 10:30 Wednesday morning, after more than 17 hours in the water, he caught the attention of a fishing boat by waving a sock in the air. After his rescue, Trapp was transported to Saginaw Hospital, where he remains in good condition. “If this would have been May or November, [his survival] would have been more unlikely," Coast Guard Officer Kyle Niemi told reporters. “The water temperature was on his side.”

Read more at MSNBC