Thrill-Seeker Shoots Video After Plane Crash

David Lesh filmed as the plane sank into the Pacific Ocean
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 21, 2019 6:20 PM CDT
Pilot Shoots Video After Crashing in Ocean
In this Aug. 20, 2019 image provided by the US Coast Guard, a Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew rescues two people after their plane went down near Half Moon Bay, Calif.   (U.S. Coast Guard via AP)

A pilot and self-professed thrill seeker said Wednesday he was forced to bring his new plane down into the ocean off Northern California as it lost power, recording dramatic videos as he and his passenger treaded water in the chilly ocean awaiting rescue, the AP reports. (See clips here, here, and here.) Pilot David Lesh, a 34-year-old globe-trotting skier and the founder of Colorado-based outerwear company Virtika, had embarked on the flight Tuesday over Half Moon Bay, south of San Francisco. His plan was for friends in a second plane to photograph the first real trip of his single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza propeller plane, with views of the coastline and Golden Gate Bridge to complement photos on his Instagram account showing him flying, skiing, and snowmobiling worldwide.

The plan was scrapped when the plane lost power while flying at 3,000 feet. Lesh reached out to Owen Leipelt, the pilot of the second plane carrying the photographer. "David radioes to me that he's lost engine power," Leipelt said. "When you hear that, you think, 'Whoa, whoa, whoa, what did I just hear, say that again.'" Lesh said his plane "skipped along the water" for a few hundred feet without much of an impact. The Coast Guard dispatched two aircraft, a cutter and a patrol boat. Videos show a helicopter hoisting the soaked Lesh and his passenger out of the water about 20 minutes after the plane went down. While in the water, Lesh filmed himself and his friend with his water-resistant cellphone as the plane sank in under a minute. "There she goes!" he says in one video as the tail bobs in the water.

(Read more plane crash stories.)

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