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CBP Rescues Man After He Crashed His Plane into Lake Michigan

Release Date: 
July 20, 2015

Wife watched husband crash from another aircraft

DETROIT- U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Office of Air and Marine (OAM), rescued a Canadian citizen after crashing into Lake Michigan. An OAM A-Star helicopter crew was instrumental in the rescue of downed pilot.

On Saturday, July 18,, OAM crew located a downed airplane (pictured) near the small island of St. Martin in Lake Michigan.

On Saturday, July 18,, OAM crew located a downed airplane (pictured) near the small island of St. Martin in Lake Michigan.

At approximately 7pm on Saturday, July 18, an OAM A-Star helicopter crew assigned to the Great Lakes Air and Marine Branch on Selfridge Air National Guard Base, was returning from a mission in northern Michigan when they heard a Mayday call from a pilot in distress. The crew of the A-Star quickly determined the aircraft in distress was nearby and responded immediately to the small island of St. Martin in Lake Michigan.

Shortly thereafter, the aircrew consisting of an OAM Air Interdiction Agent and a U.S. Border Patrol Supplemental Aircrew Member, established communications with the wife of the downed pilot, who was circling the crash site in a separate aircraft. After establishing communications, the OAM crew located the downed airplane, and found the pilot, identified as Robert Kelly a Canadian citizen, exiting the aircraft. The crew landed their aircraft on the rocky beach near the crash site.  Mr. Kelly was found with only minor injuries.

“The quick thinking and precision flying of this aircrew was instrumental in this rescue,” said Mike Bishop, Director of Air Operations. “We could not have asked for a better outcome and I am very proud that my guys could reunite this husband and wife.”

After rescuing Mr. Kelly, the crew transported him to the Escanaba Airport (KESC), where he joined his wife.

The NTSB and Federal Aviation Administration will investigate.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017