“The flames melted the windshield and melted his instruments,” Kathleen said. “He had to point (the plane) down and go straight for the water at 200 mph.”
As the plane dove, Raymond grabbed life vests, along with a bag of survival gear. Ted went for his iPad, sealed in a waterproof case, and a hand-held emergency beacon used to transmit the pair’s location to authorities.
Ted likened the impact of hitting the water to crashing into a brick wall; he shouted, “Hold on!” prior to the plane’s nosedive, he told the Chronicle.
“The water started sucking them under immediately,” Kathleen said.
While floating in the gulf, hoping for a quick rescue, Ted recorded a short video, capturing their experience.
At least two planes passed over them.
“We’re waving our arms, and they are flying over top of us,” he told the newspaper. “Surely, they saw us, but no. I’m starting to get nervous. The sun is setting, and they have 40 minutes to spot us, or we’re done.”
The two men grew less hopeful as night crept closer and jellyfish began to bite and sting.
But 20 minutes before sunset, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection aircraft spotted them and notified the Coast Guard of their location.
A MH-65C Dolphin helicopter was soon hovering above, a rescue swimmer jumped in the water and a basket was lowered.
The men were rescued in less than four hours, Kathleen said, praising the Coast Guard.
Despite sore muscles and jellyfish stings, she said her son and Raymond survived the crash with relatively little injury.
“He’s very, very lucky,” she said of Ted. “He beat death. The fact that he survived is just amazing.”
Tuesday, Ted boarded a jetliner, flying to New York City for an interview on “The Today Show” with Matt Lauer scheduled to air Wednesday morning.