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A friend overhead

September 14, 2012 by Sarah Brown

I wrote this week about a Coast Guard rescue of two pilots stranded in a sinking Cessna 185 floatplane off the California coast. Pilot Chris Verbil contacted me this morning to tell me the rest of the story.

I had written about the Civil Air Patrol airplane that located the downed aircraft, the California Highway Patrol airplane that continued circling when the CAP airplane ran low on fuel, and the Coast Guard crew that lifted the two men out. But tying everyone together was a Socata Trinidad at 8,500 feet, relaying messages between lower aircraft and Oakland Center.

Bob Lenox, the pilot of the Trinidad, had been on his way back from a fly-in in Paso Robles with his wife when he heard communications breaking down between the CAP airplane and Center, Lenox told me later today. The airplane lost radio contact, and so Lenox began relaying messages. He continued relaying messages and giving status reports, keeping the aircraft in sight, for about an hour and a half, he said, until the father and son on board the Cessna were safe inside the Coast Guard helicopter. In a Socata users group online, Lenox shared his side of the story, calling the diversion an “inconsequential inconvenience to help out fellow aviators.”

No pilot wants to face an emergency landing on rough seas, but it’s reassuring to see how the aviation community can come together in an emergency: CAP, CHP, CBP, ATC, the Coast Guard, a fellow pilot, (and others?) all played a role in getting the pilots home safe. Bravo.

-Sarah Brown

One Response to “A friend overhead”

  1. Alan D. Resnicke Says:

    “Atta Boy” to Bob Lenox! His was most definitely a ‘consequential’ inconvenience and one he might have passed on without anyone else thinking about it. He became aware of a bad situation and stepped in to help shoulder the load. I spent hours in the USAF training for such events and here he just up and does what was needed! Way to go, Mr. Lenox. May I never need your services… but may you be there if I do!

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