Pilot documents harrowing journey of crashing in Quebec forest
Published Sunday, August 4, 2019 5:58PM EDT Last Updated Sunday, August 4, 2019 6:19PM EDT
An American pilot who was forced to crash land his plane in a Quebec forest documented the aftermath in a video is thanking the Air Force troops who came to his rescue.
Matt Lehtinen, who is president of mining company Tacora Resources was flying to Quebec City from Newfoundland’s Wabush Airport on July 27 when he noticed his oil pressure and temperatures were off. Soon, the plane’s engine stopped working.
“My engine gave out, it was a loud, ugly, nasty sound,” he said. “I’ll never forget it. It sounded like the engine was trying to grind itself to pieces.”
He was able to deploy the plane’s parachute and land the plane north of Sept-Iles, but not before a tree broke through the craft.
“I felt the tree come up through the bottom of the airplane,” he said. “It actually was so close that it scraped my leg and ripped my shorts. Only a few inches to one direction and it probably would have been a fatal type of injury.”
Once safely on the ground, Lehtinen was able to call for help with a GPS unit and make a signal fire.
“I quite possibly would have been there for many days and I didn’t have the supplies to survive for many days,” he said. “Once I started a fire to send smoke signals, that’s when I finally got the message back that they spotted my smoke and knew exactly where I was.”
A Royal Canadian Air Force rescue team was sent in to retrieve the downed pilot, who said he felt an enormous sense of relief.
“The best feeling I had was recovering a radio that they dropped from the C-130,” he said. “I had to scramble through a swamp about 200 metres to find it. As I walked up to the radio I could hear them calling my name.”
Lehtinen credits the plane’s parachute and GPS for his survival and said he hopes others learn a valuable lesson from what he lived through.
“Words can’t express the gratitude I feel towards everyone that was involved to rescue me.”