In the Drink

Here are four photos taken from a C182 searching for the airplane.



Dear friends,

Today I arrived back with my family in the Netherlands.

Maybe you all know that I was involved in an aircraft crash in Canada. While on route from Winnipeg to Goose Bay, flying at 11,000 feet, the engine lost power after a loud bang and serious vibration. I was no longer able to maintain altitude and declared an emergency with ATC, requesting vectors to the closest airport. Being on top of the clouds, I did not expect (and could hardly believe) the message from the air traffic controller that Geraldton Aiport was reporting only 1/4 Statute Mile visibility and overcast at 200 feet in snow. It's hard to imagine what goes through one's mind at that time but quite frankly, I thought that my days were over. I was going to end up as a statistic.

I flew the airplane through the clouds and broke out at about 500 feet above the ground. A horrible sight, only rocks and high pine trees appeared. I saw a small clearing in the woods and thought that this could be a valley. Heading for this valley, I clipped one tree and discovered that the valley was actually a river, extending into a (frozen) lake. The Falco kept on flying, and I levelled the airplane out, bleeding off speed and gently setting down into the river. N660RH stayed in one piece but more importantly, I stayed in one piece. In fact, I didn't get a scratch. I activated the EPIRB Emergency radio and after swimming to the shoreline I was rescued by the volunteers of the Geraldton Fire Brigade's in their Eurocopter EC.120, about two hours later. Hospitalization only revealed a mild hypothermia from the freezing water and the exposure to the elements in wet clothes. Doctor McLeod kept me in the hospital for two days to observe my status but I felt that I just needed to head back home to be with my family and friends.

I have been one lucky guy and although the Falco is a write-off, I am able to tell the story. It's a true miracle, and I thank God for giving me this opportunity.

These picture were taken by the Geraldton Fire Department Rescue Team. I thank my life to these wonderful people, and I'm most thankful for their efforts which required courage and skill. I am also extremely thankful to my friends in Holland. You supported Birgit, Joris and Simone during these difficult and stressy hours, and I simply don't know how to thank you all.


Simon Paul

May 15, 2008


What wonderful luck you have had! There must be an angel up there watching out for you. How could any person be more fortunate? To have destroyed your airplane and then be able to go home to your family and go on with your life. I'm sorry to hear about the accident, and I'm sorry about the Falco, but it's a machine and only a machine. It's people that are important and nothing else comes close. Birgit, Joris and Simone now have their husband and daddy back! And with quite a story to tell!

Alfred Scott

Notes to Simon


Sometimes good fortune is ours for no apparent reason. I had a similar incident in a Bonanza a few years back except I was VFR at about 5500 feet when the top half of a piston decided to part with the bottom half. It's a long story which I will not go into in detail, I think only those who have had this sort of thing happen can truly relate to the excitement of the experience.

Fortunately for me someone had just mowed his grass landing strip. You can be sure it looked like an International airport when I rounded a mountain corner and spotted it.  I was able to make it there for a text book landing.  You're right about the vibration. I thought the airplane was coming apart.

You are absolutely right about what does and does not go through your mind in cases like this. I would have never made it if I was on top like you.  Good case in point for current situational awareness and terrain maps in the GPS. Congratulations and good job. Any landing you walk away from is a good one. 

It is said a good pilot is one who has lived through these type of events and learned something from them.  I guess some of us have to go through it, so we can tell others about it.  I sincerely hope not to have either you or me have to do it again.

I am happy for you and yours and sad to see the Falco in the river, better that than the rocks or trees.

Best regards,
Steve Crisp  

A job well done Simon. Hard to believe it is a write-off.

Tony Petrulio

Wow.  Lucky guy.

Derek Dubout

Sorry to see the photo of the Falco in the water, but it's fabulous that the pilot got out with nothing but a cold ducking.

Stephan Wilkinson


Thank you for the update on your incident with your Falco.  I am so happy and relieved that you came out without any injury, a tribute to your piloting skills!  I am very sorry about the loss of N660HR.  It was a beautiful airplane.  I hope you are able to replace it with another.

I have quit flying, for several reasons, primarily cost.  Also, the loss of Glyn took away a lot of the pleasure.  Another factor was the hassle of getting my medical certificate renewed every year.  I miss flying, but not as badly as I thought I would.

You would be pleased to see Glyn's monument at his grave.  It has a picture of N72GR engraved just above Glyn's name.  The airplane is nestled in clouds and is a very good rendering.

Give my best regards to your family, and share with them my joy at your well-being after the forced landing.

Let me know what your plans are as to the purchase of another Falco.

All the best,

Paul Montgomery

[Paul is Glyn Russel's brother-in-law, who handled the sale of Glyn's Falco. Simon almost bought the plane but decided not to because of issues raised by the aviation authorities in the Netherlands.]

That is one lucky pilot.

Matt Arnold


I don't know you but I am glad you are well. I am saddened about the Falco but there can always be another plane. So glad you walked / swam away from the landing. You are a fortunate man.

Be Well.

Robert Davis

Alfred is right: no matter how beautiful and responsive the Falco is just a machine. That yours protected you despite a dead engine is all to the good. You can build another Falco; you cannot have another life.


Robert Cumberford

What a terrible thing to see the tail of that Falco sticking out of the water.  Glad he made it.

Dean Hall

Simon… I am a Canadian falco builder/owner who has flown in the area near Geraldton in my floatplane and my Falco.  I have also had the “pleasure” of an engine failure in the Rocky Mountains (not in a Falco).  The hair on the back of my neck is still standing up, having just read about your experience.  The Canadian bush does not give up its victims easily, particularly at that time of year.   You are a lucky man – go buy a lottery ticket quickly!

You had many good things going for you, including some skill to set the airplane down as smoothly as you did.  It seems that one very good thing was the EPIRB.   In Canada, the issue of ELT’s is actively being discussed.  The new 406 MHz standard remains expensive, and it is technically illegal to fly more than 25 miles from your home airport with an aircraft ELT (that is, one with the capability of being set off by a G-force event).  EPIRB’s are vigorously being debated as better in many ways, but without the ability to go off automatically in a crash.  Personally, as a float plane pilot, an automatic ELT at the bottom of a lake or river is not very much use to me, and so I am in favour of the EPIRB solution.   Congratulations on having a key piece of safety equipment amongst many other things that just worked out well.   When you dry off and warm up, contact me.  I may be able to advise a more hospitable route across our country for your next trip.  Preferably one that involves Brandy as a social beverage and NOT as a medicinal aid for hypothermia!

Mike Wiebe

Well done Simon!

And a hearty welcome to the club of the successful emergency landing pilots... takes a cool head, loads of concentration and some luck. Lycos are not what they used to be ;-)

Wishing all of you guys the best in your salvage efforts, hopefully for this beauty to grace the skys once again.

Dan Ruiters

The coordinates are N49 21.687  W087 38.033. We've tried to locate it on Google Earth, and we found the location above. And here's a Google Earth PlaceMark for this location:


Simon reports: The Falco is still in the water, and I'm sure it's situation and condition are not improving. The insurance company wrote me today that they will pay for the hull which was well insured but will not cover any liability or recovery. The insurance company has parted from the plane which means that they will pay hull with the airplane remaining in my possesion. I guess it has to be removed from the water as quickly as possible.

Thus, the airplane still belongs to Simon, and he is looking for a way to recover the Falco.