Pilot Pulls Parachute in Dramatic Plane Escape Over Ocean

PHOTO: A pilot ran out of fuel and safely exited his aircraft in a life raft off the coast of Maui, Jan. 22, 2015.PlayUS Coast Guard
WATCH Pilot Pulls Parachute in Dramatic Plane Escape

The U.S. Coast Guard captured the suspenseful moment when a pilot's fuel system had a mechanical issue and his plane quickly plummeted to the ocean.

The pilot, later identified as Lue Morton, had to ditch his aircraft about 253 miles northeast of Maui, Hawaii, on Sunday, when his single engine Cirrus SR-22 aircraft ran out of fuel.

Morton, 25, was flying from Tracy, California, to Maui. As his plane’s engine began to quit, Morton used his satellite phone to call his parents.

“I was nervous but he was in control…My wife and I had faith in his abilities,” said Morton’s father, Pat Morton. “You have to give it up. You can’t get too frantic with these things.”

After the call, Morton deployed an emergency parachute and hung on as he descended into the ocean water.

“Uh no,” Morton said when asked by a reporter if he had ever handled an emergency like that before.

Fortunately, Morton was safe after the ordeal.

"At approximately 4:44 p.m. the pilot was able to deploy the aircraft’s airframe parachute system and safely exit the aircraft into a life raft," according to the Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System.

Morton, a pilot since the age of 17, was rescued by a cruise ship that was in the middle of an 18-day round-trip cruise to Lahaina, Hawaii, from San Diego, California.

Holland America Line's ms Veendam cruise ship answered a request for assistance from the U.S. Coast Guard to assist after the plane's fuel system had a mechanical issue, the cruise company said.

From Morton's life raft, Holland America Line crewmembers brought him aboard the ship and provided food and accommodations. The pilot, who was in "good condition," disembarked Monday at Lahaina, the cruise line said.

“January has been an eventful month for our ships with several rescues around the world, and we are honored to be able to assist in any distress situation when needed," Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line, said in a statement.

This is the third sea rescue by a Holland America Line ship just this year. On Jan. 3, another ship ms Zuiderdam rescued eight crewmembers from a sinking vessel in the Caribbean. The next day the ms Zaandam ship rescued seven stranded crewmembers at the Arctowski Polish research station at King George Island in Antarctica.