Foreign passengers of ill-fated relief chopper recall ordeal

Posted at 11/25/2013 1:32 PM | Updated as of 11/25/2013 7:19 PM

MANILA – The two passengers of a chopper that crash-landed at a portion of Manila Bay in Obando, Bulacan on Sunday recalled their ordeal and thanked those who helped them.

A Bolkow 105 helicopter with registration number RP-C699 carrying American pilot Capt. James Eagle and lone passenger Capt. Iren Dornier, crash-landed near the shoreline of Purok 6, Barangay Binwangan after its engine suddenly shut down.

Fortunately, Dornier and Eagle managed to send a distress signal and jumped off the chopper right before the crash.

A U.S C-130 PAG-ASA 47 crew received the mayday alert and threw life vests towards the two foreign nationals, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

The two had been swimming towards the shore for about an hour and a half when the C-130 plane arrived.

"I was able to grab the radio. Luckily there was a great coincidence that there were so many aircraft flying relief goods. They were monitoring the frequency and they were able to throw us a raft," Eagle said.

The two foreign nationals were then found by local fisherman Danilo delos Reyes. They were brought to the detachment of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in Navotas, where they received immediate medical attention.

Dornier, a German, said he could not understand why the chopper crashed.

"Because the helicopter was perfectly maintained; never had a problem. Two engines, no reason, no reason. Normally one engine, if you run out of fuel, [you'd encounter a problem], but not two engines," Dornier said in broken English.

"We cannot do anything, not enough time to land," he added.

The helicopter, operated by Aviation Enterprises based in Clark International Airport, was flying back to its home base in Pampanga from Caticlan in Aklan after bringing relief goods for victims of typhoon "Yolanda" when it encountered problems.

CAAP deputy director general for operations Rodante Joya said the agency will launch an investigation to determine the cause of the crash. – reports from Carolyn Bonquin, ABS-CBN News; and Noel Alamar, dzMM