Press-Republican

October 7, 2012

Plane crash elevates pilot to fame

By MIRANDA ORSO
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — Since Theodore “Ted” Wright’s plane crashed in the Gulf of Mexico, the last place one might expect to see him is soaring through the sky on a jetliner.

But the Port Kent native’s epic story of skill and survival captivated the media’s attention, and he found himself flying once again.

He has been to New York, Los Angeles and a few cities in between recounting his Sept. 20 ordeal on numerous national talk shows.

On Wednesday, he stopped by “The Today Show,” and the next day he was joking with Al Roker on his Weather Channel show, “Wake Up with Al.”

Wright’s story was also featured on “Inside Edition” and “The Jeff Probst Show.”

“Anderson Cooper wanted us on his show today, too,” he laughed Friday in a phone interview from Tennessee. “It’s been hectic. I am just kind of worn out.”

‘MISCONCEPTIONS’

Wright, 27, and friend Raymond Fosdick, 36, boarded Wright’s twin-engine Beechcraft Baron for a flight from Baytown, Texas, to Sarasota, Fla., heading to a business meeting. But a serious cockpit fire left no choice but to kill the electric power and ditch the plane 30 miles off the coast of Louisiana.

The two free-floated for three hours, enduring painful stings from a Portuguese man-of-war before the Coast Guard was able to locate and rescue them.

“I can tell you we were in the water 2 minutes and 59 seconds too long,” Wright said.

Despite the accident, he hopes to change the perception some have of small planes and general aviation as dangerous and even deadly.

“There’s a lot of misconception about general aviation. The idea that small airplanes aren’t safe is really not true,” he said.

Wright blames the same media that can’t get enough of his story for sometimes helping to fuel this false impression.

“You see that the only time general aviation gets media coverage is when something like this happens,” he said.

TRANSPORTS SICK KIDS    

He also aims to erase any confusion that airplanes are for the super wealthy, they are environmentally dangerous and that the government spends too much money investing in general aviation.

Wright said he would never discourage anyone from flying in or owning a small plane.

“You’re more likely to be killed in a fatal car accident on your way to catch a flight than in the plane,” he added. “Anything can happen to anyone, anywhere.”

He is also using his sudden fame to spread the word about his charity, Around the World for Life.

The aircraft that crashed was the same plane he used to transport sick children to hospitals for treatment, and now Wright is on the hunt for a new plane.

“This has definitely put our organization a couple steps back,” he said. “But we are going to continue doing what we do.”

Email Miranda Orso:

morso@pressrepublican.com