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PEMBROKE PINES (CBSMiami) — In the darkness of the Everglades a crew of pilots, mechanics and Gladesmen pulled the wreckage ashore. The plane is in pieces, the pilot amazingly not.
Bob Benyo from Aerial Banners seemed relieved.
“God was watching I guess,” he said.
Benyo looked up at the TV at around lunch time Thursday and saw his plane and his pilot. His office phone then rang.
“I got the phone and he said that he’s in the Everglades. He’s fine. He had to put the plane down. He lost power,” said Benyo.
Keith Jones, a fifth generation Gladesmen, whose family owns Mack’s Fish Camp, saw it go down.
“Plane was pulling the banner and it was struggling and next thing I know the plane was out of the sky,” said Jones.
He rushed out to rescue the pilot. But by the time he got there the Broward Sheriff’s Office helicopter already did the job in spectacular fashion. The pilot reached into the helicopter and was whisked away to safety.
Marshall Jones, Keith’s brother, called the whole thing incredibly lucky.
“The landing gear touched down in the muck. And of course it got stuck. It flipped over at a very slow rate of speed. Luckily the water level is low right now, otherwise he would have been pinned underneath the aircraft, under water,” said Marshall Jones.
Aerial Banners has actually seen this before.
In September their banner plane crashed off of Miami Beach. The pilot survived with a jet skier bringing him to shore.
Then about a year ago, one their planes crashed in Northwest Miami-Dade Lake. The pilot in that crash also walked away.
Benyo dismissed his track record.
“You see the airplanes every day. We do thousands of hours every couple of months. It’s once a year. It just happens.”
He believes the plane carburetor froze up causing the plane to lose power.
He’s just glad it went down in the West, far from civilization.
“I’d say let’s call it rough landing,” said Benyo.
When asked if the plane would fly again he laughed and replied, “Hopefully tomorrow.”
FAA Officials said the National Transportation Safety Board will try to find out what caused the crash.