Tow boat owner says plane wheels were down when it flipped into lake

Plane that crashed into Lake Travis on July 12 being pulled out on July 13, 2017. (KXAN Photo/Julie Karam)
Plane that crashed into Lake Travis on July 12 being pulled out on July 13, 2017. (KXAN Photo/Julie Karam)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the Federal Aviation Administration continues to investigate what went wrong when a small sea plane crashed into Lake Travis Wednesday night, the man who towed the plane to shore says he may have found a clue.

Removing the plane from the water and disassembling it so it could be towed away was a long tedious process. It took Chris Riley and his team more than 10 hours.

Riley, the owner of Flagship Towing, said, “We have to make sure we don’t get in the cockpit, around the cockpit, damage any of the glass in the cockpit, or any of the crucial components of the plane.”

Riley mainly works with boats, but he does tow planes like this one from time to time. It’s an amphibious plane, meaning it can land on either ground or water.

“Only problem with this particular landing was the running gear was left down,” he said, referring to the plane wheels.

Riley says when this kind of plane hits a runway, they should be down for the landing, but when it hits the water the wheels shouldn’t be out.

“So pretty much it was a sudden stop to the plane just because the drag of the wheels caused the tip of the plane just to dip down in the water,” he continued.

It’s important to note that’s not an official answer as to why the plane flipped into the water. The FAA will have the final word once its investigation is finished.

The agency is also investigating after two people were killed in a plane crash in in Tyler, Texas Thursday morning. Investigators say the private twin-engine plane crashed in a field. It had just taken off from Tyler’s Pounds Regional Airport. Both people on board were killed in the crash. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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