When Genesah Duffy, chief pilot and senior director of flight operations for Icon Aircraft, took off on a return-to-service flight in one of the company’s A5 amphibians, she didn’t expect it to transform. in an air-sea rescue. mission. As the small, two-seater floatplane had just emerged from a 100-hour inspection, Duffy took off from the company’s Owner Sales and Training Center at the Peter O. Knight Airport (KTPF) in Tampa, Florida, Monday morning (November 15). . She heard a Mooney pilot announce on the Unicom frequency that he was heading for the airport. “It didn’t seem to be bad,” she said AVweb during a telephone interview. “There was no distress call.”
But after completing a water landing for a routine bilge pump check a few miles south of the airport, she picked up a radio call from another plane. “Usually I can’t receive reception from the surface,” she said, “but I heard someone on the frequency say the Mooney had entered the water.” So she took off and flew to where she felt the plane might be. “The water is pretty shallow there and I could see the outline of the plane; completely submerged. The Mooney was later reported to be on a flight from Lakeland Linder International Airport when it developed an engine problem.
Flying at about 200 feet, Duffy announced his position over the radio and said she could see a person in a yellow life jacket. Before landing, she walked around the area to make sure she wouldn’t hit anyone in the water. She said the winds were gusting at around 15 knots and the surface looked choppy, but when she touched down it wasn’t as bad as it looked and she was able to taxi to where the plane sank. It was then that she saw another man without a life jacket struggling in the water. Even as the occupant of the life jacket moved away from the site, she focused on the man without the flotation device, who turned out to be the pilot-owner of the Mooney.
“I rolled over and he grabbed the tail and, although he was already tired, he pulled himself along the left side of the plane.” Duffy helped him put on one of the life jackets aboard the A5 and pulled the inflation handle. They moved him to the passenger side and put him on the plane. “He was… a grown man,” she said. “Helping him in took some effort. “
He told her he had owned the Mooney for several years and said his engine was overheating and he was trying to land at KTPF, “but he must have pulled over on the approach,” she said. declared.
Meanwhile, a Tampa Police rescue boat had arrived, so Duffy pointed in the direction of the departing passenger. She followed the police and transferred the pilot to their boat after the second man was picked up. Duffy said the Icon A5’s setup actually made the rescue relatively easy, with the tired pilot able to climb aboard using the Seawings heel on the hull as a platform.
A Navy veteran who served as a communications technician in Guam working on submarines, Duffy conducted a discovery flight after her release in 2012 and found aviation was the career she sought. . She holds an associate’s degree in flight technology and is “about 75%” close to earning a bachelor’s degree in aerospace management. She holds commercial qualifications in land planes (with multi) and seaplanes as well as helicopters. She also has her instructor rating and 950 of the total 1,850 hours in her logbook are in the Icon A5.
And no, she doesn’t see herself as some sort of hero. She said, “I’m just glad I was in the right place at the right time.