Leighton Beach plane crash: Teen son Jake Yeates helps mum crash land plane in WA
A mother has recalled the terrifying moment the plane she was flying with her teenage son crash landed near a beach, revealing how her boy’s quick thinking saved both their lives.
Michelle Yeates was flying back to Perth after viewing the solar eclipse in the state’s north on Thursday when the plane’s engine cut out near North Fremantle about 5pm.
The terrifying mid-air crisis forced Ms Yeates and her 15-year-old son, Jake, to prepare for an emergency landing.
Speaking to Nine News, she revealed how Jake unlatched the doors to ensure the plane didn’t sink when they hit the water – a move she said saved them both from drowning.
“I was pushing open the door but also holding onto the roof so I didn’t hit my head or anything,” he said.
Footage shows the moment beachgoers realised the plane was plummeting towards the ocean before it skidded to a halt with a massive splash, sending debris flying.
Ms Yeates revealed she couldn’t land on the beach because people had gathered there.
As the pair jumped out of the aircraft and stood on its wings, it began to sink.
“While we were standing on the wing and the plane was going down I remember thinking my knees are shaking, they won’t stop shaking,” she said.
Ms Yeates said the plane started to behave strangely about five minutes from their destination.
She sent out a may day to air traffic control and made the snap decision to try for a water landing off Leightons Beach.
Speaking to ABC, Ms Yeates said she told Jake: ‘”Mate, we’ve just had engine failure, we’re going to have to land on the beach.”
“He was like: ‘For real, are you for real?’”
“I said: ‘Hopefully this is the most exciting thing that’s going to happen in your life and we’re going to be okay.’”
Ms Yeates, a commercial pilot, said she had trained for such a landing “many, many times”.
But she never expected she would actually have to perform such a move.
“I was only at 1500 feet, I didn’t have much time to react so I just sent out a may day to the tower and then just turned around and landed on the water – I tried to get as close to the beach as I could without hitting anybody,” Ms Yeates said.
“Jake got the door open really quickly and we just got out as it was going down,” she said.
“We were just standing on the wings … I was just thinking, we’re going to have to swim.”
People on Leighton Beach swam out to help them get back to shore.
Police said most of the plane was submerged in the water, with only a small part of it visible above the waterline.
Both Ms Yeates and Jake were checked over by St John WA.
Originally published as ‘My knees are shaking, they won’t stop shaking’: Mum recalls son’s heroic act as plane plummets into ocean