Pilot survives 24 hours in subfreezing weather

pilot602

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(CNN) -- A pilot survived 24 hours in temperatures that hovered near zero after his small plane splashed into an Alaska lake during an unsuccessful takeoff from a remote airstrip over the weekend.

Wade Strahan, 56, was rescued Saturday after spending a subfreezing night in an unheated trapper's cabin and then hiking eight miles where he was found by a cross-country skier, said Maj. Mike Haller of the Alaska National Guard.

According to Haller, the skier was able to text-message rescue crews, who came for Strahan and took him to a hospital.

After swimming ashore, Strahan battled the frigid conditions -- temperatures ranging between zero and 10 degrees above zero -- and hiked to the trapper's cabin, never able to remove the frozen shoes from his feet.

"He was hypothermic and banged up, but in good shape and good spirits," Haller said. "What he did to survive was phenomenal."

Strahan, an Anchorage Fire Department battalion chief, was treated at Providence Alaska Hospital, and has been sent home.

Haller said Strahan went on a sightseeing flight over the Chugach Mountains on Friday, the area's first clear afternoon in several days.

Strahan -- a pilot with more than 30 years of experience -- ended up in Eklutna Lake, about 40 miles northeast of Anchorage, when his Cessna C-172 was not able to get airborne as he attempted to take off from a remote airfield. He said the plane skidded about 100 feet into the lake.

"I think I am extremely fortunate," Strahan said from his home Sunday night. "It is really pretty minor. [My] fingers and toes are swollen; I might lose a toenail.

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Brrrrrrrr.
 

tonyw

Well-Known Member
Wow. That guy is one lucky dude! Not only did he manage to survive the crash, but all he might lose is one toenail?

Unbelievable!
 

lilrkt

New Member
As a side note, what they didn't mention was that he was doing touch and gos at the airport trying to pack down the snow enough to be able to stop. He apparenlty got bogged down in the snow on the last one and didn't make it airborn by the end of the runway. Then ended up going through the ice on the lake just past the runway. Not only is he lucky he survived what he did, he is lucky he didn't nose over in the deep snow. I plan to move up there this summer, but I don't think I would try to land like that.
The anchorage news also mentioned that the cabin that he sheltered in was supposed to have been torn down already. I wish I could be that lucky.
 

tonyw

Well-Known Member
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As a side note, what they didn't mention was that he was doing touch and gos at the airport trying to pack down the snow enough to be able to stop.

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Is this something you're supposed to do? I don't know squat about flying in Alaska so maybe this is something that's normal up there?
 
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