Rescued NY pilot recounts 18 hours in Lake Huron

July 28, 2011 - 2:28 PM
Lake Crash Survivor

In this Wednesday, July 27, 2011 photo provided by the Huron County, Mich., Sheriff's Office, rescuers carry pilot Michael Trapp after he spent 17 hours swimming and treading water without a life jacket, after his small plane went down due to a stalled engine Tuesday evening near Harbor Beach, about 105 miles north of Detroit. Trapp is recovering Thursday in a Saginaw hospital. (AP Photo/Huron County Sheriff's Office)

DETROIT (AP) — A pilot who treaded water and swam without a life jacket for 18 hours after his small plane crashed into Lake Huron said a number of boats passed him by but couldn't hear his cries for help.

A day after his rescue, 42-year-old Michael Trapp told reporters at a Saginaw hospital where he was recovering that he "wasn't ready to die yet."

"I just kept struggling and struggling," he said.

The auto mechanic from Gouverneur (guh-vur-NOOR'), N.Y., left Tuesday to visit family in Wisconsin.

Trapp said he decided to fly his own plane because a round trip commercial flight was $922. "I said I can fly there and back for 400 bucks and I wanted to do it," Trapp said.

Things were fine as he crossed Canada and flew over Lake Huron. But within sight of Michigan the engine began to sputter.

"I started to lose altitude. It had the sensation of running out of gas," he said.

Trapp said he contacted flight officials in Lansing and told them his plane was going down.

"I said I'm going down, you have to find me," Trapp told reporters.

He crashed Tuesday evening near Harbor Beach, about 105 miles north of Detroit.

Dean and Diane Petitpren from Grosse Pointe Farms near Detroit saw him waving a sock in the water and hauled him aboard their yacht about 10:23 a.m. Wednesday.