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.