A small airplane went down in Lake Michigan Saturday just south of the Lighthouse about 300 yards East of Shoop Golf Course's parking lot. The accident occured about 1:20 p.m. The pilot was helped off the plane by the Racine County Sheriff Department Boat 1.
The Sheriff later identified the pilot as Christopher D. Stone, 51, of Kenosha. He said he was doing practice landings on Lake Michigan when, on his final landing he believes his port pontoon struck an object in the water, possibly a log, which damaged the pontoon and brought the plane to an instant stop from 70 miles an hour. Stone said he suffered some trauma in the accident, but refused treatment.
When the Sheriff's Water Patrol initially responded to the scene the plane was still under power, operating in a circle, with the left pontoon torn from its mounting brackets on the wing, and the plane listing with that wing in the water. Once the pilot cut the power to the engine, the patrol boat was able to come alongside and take the pilot on board; he was wet from the waist down from water in the plane.
The pilot told deputies that if they could cut the damaged pontoon away from the wing, and attach flotation to it, the plane could be towed to a sand beach. The patrol boat was maneuvered to lift the port wing from the water and an air-filled boat fender was attached to the underside the wing to provide flotation for that side of the plane. The plane was then towed to the beach between North Beach and Zoo Beach and secured.
Photographer Kevin Barz was on the scene and took these dramatic photos of the plane down in the water (top) and the pilot's rescue.