Plane wreckage removed from Lake Travis

Plane wreckage being removed from Lake Travis on July 6, 2016. (KXAN Photo/Richie Bowes)
Plane wreckage being removed from Lake Travis on July 6, 2016. (KXAN Photo/Richie Bowes)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A small plane that crashed into Lake Travis Saturday afternoon is finally being extracted from the depths of the lake Wednesday.

Rob Whiteside says he was flying the late-model open cockpit bi-plane when he had to make a snap decision on where to land the plane once he realized it was failing.

“I can not make a statement at this time due to an ongoing investigation but I’m happy that no one was seriously hurt,” says Whiteside.

The pilot ended up crashing the plane near Bob Wentz Park. All three people inside the plane made it out without any injuries and no bystanders were injured in the process.

“As we were getting ready to leave Lake Travis is when we had the engine problems,” Jonathan Smith, one fo teh passengers says. He said he had taken his dad on the plane as a 58th birthday surprise and to help cheer him up during his fight with cancer.

“In the beginning my dad and I thought Rob the pilot was just completely joking, we thought this was him just trying to mess around and add to the experience,” Smith. “but then we ended up hitting the water and just immediately or upside down underwater trying to get out of me and it was just absolutely the scariest thing that I’ve ever experienced.”

Geoff Grunska was on the lake for the holiday weekend when he saw the crash unfold before him.

“We were trying to figure out what he was doing, then we realized the engine cut out and we were like, ‘Oh this is not going to end well,’” says Grunska. Within seconds, Grunska says he watched the plane hit the water. “He hit it flat, but the force of the plane, it flipped it right over. Within a matter of 45 seconds that plane was completely submerged.”

On Wednesday afternoon, the Federal Aviation Administration, along with salvage crews, started the work to tow the plane out of the lake. FAA Inspector Victor Lopez says once the plane is retrieved, it’ll remain onshore for a couple of days until it’s towed to Dallas for a full investigation into what caused the crash.e look at everything from the beginning to the end until the time he actually landed int he water. 9

“We look at everything, from the beginning to the end, until the time he actually landed in the water,” says Lopez.

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