MAUREPAS - No one was hurt when an Ultralight aircraft crashed into the Diversion Canal shortly before sundown Tuesday.
The recreational aircraft was partially submerged in the canal on the Ascension Parish side near Highway 22 and River Highland Road. The operator told sheriff's deputies later, he had engine trouble and crashed shortly before sundown.
An Ultralight is a lightweight aircraft used for recreational flying. Typically, it seats one or two people. A picture taken from the scene shows the aircraft involved in the crash Tuesday had only one seat.
The man, who was not identified by the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office, is an experienced operator a fellow recreational flier told WBRZ News 2. Terry McConnell said he was flying about above the Ultralight at about 600 feet with a second person in a two-seat powered parachute when his passenger alerted him to what was happening below.
"It did have my heart racing a little bit," McConnell said. "My main concern was that he'd get out of the aircraft and not drown, which he did. It was a goo day for him," he said.
McConnell did not identify the operator who crashed, but said the man was okay, but was shaken.
"He just got wet and his pride's hurt a little bit," he told WBRZ reporter Brett Buffington for a report on WBRZ News 2 at 10:00 Tuesday night.
McConnell said they both took off for an evening of recreational flying from the airstrip in St. Amant.
Witnesses watched the crash happen and alerted deputies.
"A neighbor called dispatch to report the incident when the aircraft hit the water," Ascension Parish Sheriff's spokesperson Allison Hudson said.
Ultralights are loosely regulated by the FAA, according to a recreational flying organization. The FAA limits size and weight but does not certify pilots.
The FAA, though, will be investigating, the sheriff's office said. Federal investigators are expected to arrive Wednesday.
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