It was terror at 11,000 feet for two Texas men who were forced to ditch their small plane in the Gulf of Mexico. According to the Coast Guard. the twin engine Beechcraft Baron crashed 28 miles east of South Pass near the mouth of the Mississippi River.
Theodore Wright and Raymond Fosdick, of Baytown, Texas, survived the crash to tell what happened. They say the plane suddenly caught fire.
"The cockpit was just filling with smoke and immediately reached down, and threw off the AV master and began a descent and about that time the fire, it was just all through the cockpit," said Fosdick.
He credits the pilot and lifelong friend Ted Wright for making a perfect crash landing.
"We hit the water at about 100 knots," said Fosdick. "It skipped once and we bounced about 30 feet in the area and then there were three our four very rapid skips and then a sudden stop," said Fosdick.
Coast Guard helicopter pilot Lt. Becki Fosha from Air Station New Orleans says the men did a great job ditching the plane and surviving more than three hours in the water.
"They had a limited time to bring the aircraft to the water and then they had about two minutes to get all of their survival gear together and get ready for a survival situation before the aircraft submerged," said Fosha. "They had a GPS sport beacon. They had their current EPERB 406 beacon. They had floatation and survival equipment for just this kind of scenario."
A Customs and Border Patrol aircraft was also in the area and helped lead the Coast Guard to the survivors.
"All my friends are kind of joking, our good days are other people's bad days," said Flight Mechanic AE2 Matt Russell. "It feels good to go out and get somebody and bring them back to their family."
It was the first search and rescue mission over water for two members of the Coast Guard flight crew. They say it's the exact type of mission they train for.
"I was just recently qualified to actually sit in the left seat for these flights," said Lt. Lihn Vihn, just one month out of the Coast Guard Academy. "It was over all just a great experience and I'm really glad that the case ended with a happy ending."
Rescue swimmer AST Sean Goodman said, "There were no sharks in the area. There's no alligators or anything like that. So, other than them crashing into the water it was a pretty safe mission. We had two survivors and everything worked out perfect."
Meanwhile Fosdick says he's amazed the rescue crew was able to spot him and Wright floating in the water.
"For them to even find us is an amazing feat," said Fosdick. "We were kind of frantic down below, but they had us in sight and we were extremely happy when they showed up on scene.
The plane was flying between Baytown and Sarasota, Florida at the time of the crash.
Both men survived with only minor injuries.