Broken rudder strands seaplane passengers off port

No one was hurt last Monday morning when an Inland Air Charter seaplane broke its water rudder on landing in Masset Inlet

RCMP

No one was hurt last Monday morning when an Inland Air Charter seaplane broke its water rudder on landing in Masset Inlet.

But without a working rudder, the pilot tried and failed twice to steer the plane into Masset Harbour .

Passengers had a tense time in board as the plane was rocked by strong, gusty winds and a quick-moving tide that pushed the plane back out Masset Inlet.

Maryanne Wettlaufer was among the dozens watching nervously from shore.

“When I first saw it, the plane was tipping in the wind and I thought, ‘Oh good lord, if it goes over, it’s too far to swim’,” said Wettlaufer.

“It was pretty hair-raising.”

The seaplane pilot phoned for help sometime after 10 a.m., and Masset RCMP came to the rescue with two members in a patrol boat.

They secured a tow line, and towed the plane – crew and passengers still on board – into the Masset Harbour dock in Delkatla Slough. The passengers stepped safely onto the dock by about 11 a.m.

Working alongside the RCMP were several quick-acting volunteers.

The Masset Marine Rescue/Royal Canadian Marine SAR crew responded with their rescue boat, as did local fisher Stan Hansen and Haida Fisheries’ Brad Setso, who stood by on the Haida Princess and Skilay.

“They were on hand to make sure everybody was safe, and that’s very much appreciated,” said Corporal Peter Dionne.

Wettlaufer said many of the passengers were on their cell phones as soon as they got off the plane, calling friends and family to say they were safe.

Once the passengers were off, the seaplane pilot set out into the inlet again, this time with help from the Masset Marine Rescue, who rigged their boat alongside it so they could move the plane into take-off position.

Wettlaufer said it was quite a dramatic thing to see the seaplane towed back to harbour in the stormy water, with escorts on either side.

“That was nice to see,” she said.

“There was such group effort out there on the water, and fairly quick too.”