By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT
A GROUP from Abaco is lucky to be alive after their small aircraft crashed into water off Treasure Cay yesterday morning just after takeoff.
The Aircraft Accident Investigation Authority is investigating the incident.
The agency said a Piper PA32 Cherokee Six with registration C6-TOY crashed into water after departing the Treasure Cay Airport. All four passengers were uninjured.
According to the aircraft’s pilot, Bishop Cedric Bullard, just after takeoff from the airport, he noticed something was out of sorts with the plane.
“We were going to Nassau to see our families and get back here, but after takeoff we were climbing to an altitude and I observed that we were not climbing, we lost engine pressure,” said Bishop Bullard. “As a minister of the gospel I want to point out why it is important to ask God to order your steps.
“I said to my pastor, ‘Pray that God gives us a safe flight’ and we had a prayer in the plane this morning. We started losing power and we tried to head back to the (runway), because there wasn’t enough altitude. We were able to put this airplane in the swamp in a beautiful area in Abaco.”
Bishop Bullard, who posted a live Facebook video about the incident, was travelling to New Providence with his son, Timothy Ferguson, one of the pastors from his church, Rev LaTroy Russell and Russell’s daughter, a medical school student. The bishop thanked God they are all alive and uninjured.
“I want to say to you to always put God first,” Bishop Bullard continued. “The Bible says in all your ways acknowledge Christ and he will direct your path. Do that! This could have ended differently. We could have been over the deep blue ocean or over the pine yard, but God put us over the swamp.
“The landing was smooth. No one was injured. We are here and able to talk to each other and give God thanks. The message in this is not to do a video to show off, but to say God is real and if you serve him and put him first, he will protect you in troubled times.”
The AAIA also confirmed that the Royal Bahamas Defence Force rescued the passengers on board the downed Piper Cherokee aircraft. The agency said investigations into this matter will continue
Abaco is no stranger to aircraft crashes. On August 25, 2001, almost the same date of yesterday’s crash, a Cessna 402 twin-engine light aircraft carrying American singer and actress Aaliyah and part of her entourage crashed just after takeoff from the Marsh Harbour Airport in Abaco. That crash took the lives of the pilot and all eight passengers on board.
On March 26, 2012, then Police Superintendent Paul Rolle, now Commissioner of Police, informed the press of a crash where a single engine Piper aircraft, minutes after taking off from the Treasure Cay Airport, exploded after crashing into some trees a few yards away from the runway.
All four passengers, who were second home owners, were confirmed dead on the scene.