Pilot Lands Cessna 180 in Copano Bay

A Rockport man piloting a small plane Tuesday night made an emergency landing in Copano Bay near the Aransas County Airport after the craft wouldn't accelerate during an attempted landing, a DPS trooper said.

Thurman Lee Dobbs, 63, made a pass over the airport's runway just before 7 p.m. when he wasn't able to gain speed for the landing, Department of Public Safety Trooper David Cordova said.

Knowing he didn't have enough power to make another pass over the runway in his Cessna 180, he touched down in Copano Bay about 100 yards from shore, Cordova said.

"He made a split-second decision that saved his own life and probably the lives of (other) people," Cordova said.

The plane landed in about 5 feet of water behind the airstrip, houses and Farm-to-Market Road 1781, Cordova said. Uninjured, he swam to shore and walked to the airport's office, where officials called the Federal Aviation Administration, Cordova said.

The Coast Guard and Texas General Land Office were notified, and crews were fishing the plane from the water Tuesday night, he said.

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