Breaking News
More () »

'I was lucky': Pilot who survived crash landing in the water at Alki Beach shares his story

The pilot said he's lucky to be alive and thankful to those who helped pull him out of the water.

SEATTLE — As investigators look into what caused a plane to make an emergency landing in the water at Alki beach, the pilot was back in the air Thursday.

He said he’s lucky to be alive and thankful to those who helped pull him from the water.

“It’s getting lower and lower and the engine is starting to slow down,” that’s what pilot John La Porta said to air traffic control as he was flying back to Boeing Field from Tacoma.

La Porta said the oil pressure started to go down as well.

“I didn’t think I’d make it across the land so I made the decision to stay over the water and tried to make it around Alki point,” said La Porta.

Air traffic control warned that landing in the water will be at La Porta's own risk. 

“That was the thing going through my mind. How do I get this thing down so I'm not hurting somebody else and possibly get out myself? I think I lucked out," said La Porta.

La Porta made an emergency landing in a small empty spot of water along Alki Beach early Tuesday evening. Two days later, La Porta showed KING 5 what happened in the same type of plane.

“I pulled this back to get the nose up as high as I could so when I hit the water it wouldn't totally flip it over,” said La Porta.

People rushed to the water to help pull him out, but right before impact, La Porta cinched his shoulder strap which locked him in. La Porta said for a brief moment he didn’t know if he’d make it but said it ultimately ended up saving his life.

“It prevented me from snapping my head forward and getting knocked out. The water was coming pretty fast, I probably would've drowned at that point,” said La Porta.

Now he’s urging all pilots to keep a tool on hand.

“If I had the knife I would've been able to cut both of (the straps). I would've been able to get out,” said La Porta.

The 66-year-old pilot has been flying since 1974 and said he's lucky, but not hesitant to take to the skies. 

“You just gotta keep thinking positive. Anything that’s mechanical can break. In a car, you just pull over, but in an airplane, you just start going through the process of 'how do I get down,'” La Porta said.

La Porta is back in the air Thursday, teaching new pilots how to fly. This time, with new lessons learned.

“If you give up you're done but if you keep looking and find a way, you might make it. I was lucky. I did,” La Porta said.


Before You Leave, Check This Out