Couple Faced Flames, Alligator Fears After Crashing Plane in Everglades

Ken McKenzie credits flight experience for his and wife's survival.

ByABC News
September 1, 2015, 7:08 AM

— -- Ken McKenzie credits his flight experience with keeping himself and his wife alive.

The Florida resident -- a former pilot for the Canadian military and former COO for Spirit Airlines who now works for Airbus -- was flying with his wife, Sonia, on Sunday to see their daughter in Virginia when their single-engine plane experienced mechanical issues over the Everglades.

Ken didn’t panic, guiding the plane for a landing.

“I was shocked at being inside a fireball,” Ken McKenzie told ABC News.

“As soon as we landed, there were flames, and he reached back for me, and we clamored over the rocks,” Sonia McKenzie added.

They entered a canal, a location that posed its own challenges.

“We find ourselves in the canal, which was good, cause we were in a lot of pain,” Ken McKenzie said. “And then Sonia said, ‘Do you think there’s alligators in there?’”

Luckily for the couple, there were no alligators nearby.

Doctors said Ken McKenzie, who spoke to ABC News from his hospital bed, was badly burned but will make a full recovery

His wife has a solo flying lesson scheduled for next week, and despite the crash, she says she still plans to attend.

Ken McKenzie is thankful that his wife is OK.

“The only thing that I keep reflecting upon is, what would have happened had I not got Sonia out?” he said. “That’s the piece that I keep going over and over in my head.”