Acts of Kindness
Two teen lifeguards see plane nosediving into the ocean and dash in to save the pilot’s life
“Neither boy thought twice about running into the water where there was fuel in the water, they just charged ahead to try to save that pilot."
D.G. Sciortino
07.28.22

When a small airplane crashed into the waters of California’s Huntington State Beach, it was two teens who rescued the pilot inside.

The single-engine Piper Cub plane was said to take a sharp nose-first dive into the water and flipped over around 1:50 p.m.

The pilot was able to climb out of the cockpit but was disoriented and grasping onto the side of the plane.

Inside Edition - YouTube
Source:
Inside Edition - YouTube

Thankfully, his plane crashed on the same beach where the CSLSA California Surf Lifesaving Championships were being held.

Fifteen-year-olds Jake Shaffer and Aidan Arie, who are both captains in the Huntington Beach city junior lifeguard program, immediately sprung into action.

Inside Edition - YouTube
Source:
Inside Edition - YouTube

One grabbed a board and paddled out to the plane while the other swam out toward the pilot who was in a state of shock.

“It was scary to me in the situation, because he wasn’t responding to me,” Jake told Inside Edition.

In the meantime, Aidan surveyed the scene to make sure it was safe.

Inside Edition - YouTube
Source:
Inside Edition - YouTube

“When I got 15 to 20 feet away from the plane, I just started looking around and making sure the whole scene was safe and everyone was OK, because I knew Jake had the guy handled,” Aidan said.

Inside Edition - YouTube
Source:
Inside Edition - YouTube

Jake was able to get the pilot onto the paddle board and do a quick assessment. The man had a small cut on his head but wasn’t responding since he was in shock.

Adult lifeguards quickly ran over and took over the rescue to get the pilot to shore, then to seek medical attention.

The teen then washed off to make sure they didn’t have any airplane fuel before returning to the competition where they won first place in the swim relay race.

Inside Edition - YouTube
Source:
Inside Edition - YouTube

“Even if you don’t want to be a lifeguard, the junior lifeguard program is great to learn how to be prepared in any situation and to have water safety,” Arie told The Orange County Register.

While the two teens had been training as lifeguards since they were 9 years old and prepared for several different types of rescues, responding to a plane crash was something totally new for them.

Inside Edition - YouTube
Source:
Inside Edition - YouTube

Needless to say, everyone, including their moms, was very proud of them.

“Neither boy thought twice about running into the water where there was fuel in the water, they just charged ahead to try to save that pilot,” Aidan’s mom said.

Inside Edition - YouTube
Source:
Inside Edition - YouTube

The plane ended up being pretty banged up from the crash and was eventually towed out of the water by a tractor south of Lifeguard Tower 15.

The pilot wasn’t identified but the plane was registered to Van Wagner Aerial Media, a Florida-based company that makes and flies aerial banners.

Inside Edition - YouTube
Source:
Inside Edition - YouTube

The plane was shown to have left Compton-Woodley Airport around 10:45 a.m. and flew along the coast of Malibu and made several circles around Dodger Stadium before crashing into the water.

Learn more about these brave teens and their rescues in the video below.

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By D.G. Sciortino
hi@sbly.com
D.G. is a contributing writer in Shareably. She's based in Connecticut and can be reached at hi@shareably.net.
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