It was the day of a cruise ship visit to Roatan. The air of relaxation at the beautiful beach of West Bay was taken over by a throng, traders and tour operators were out in force, and the water was full of traffic ranging from swimmers to sails to a solitary seaplane.
The seaplane pilot chatted with an American family. “Of course it’s safe, I’ve been doing this 17 years with no problems” we heard as we walked past. “Would you like to do that?” I said to my wife. She expressed some interest and as we sat back down on our beach chairs, I kept an eye on the plane as it taxied out into the water and took off.
It stayed within sight out in front of West Bay rising to give its passengers a view of the perfect Caribbean day on the perfect Caribbean beach. As it turned back in, it brought them lower, an unusual and undoubtedly exciting feature of the trip.
As the thought started to form in my head “that looks very low from here”, suddenly one of its yellow wing arms clipped the water and the plane had tumbled over throwing water up. “That f**cking plane has crashed!” I yelled as the scene settled and the smallest shock of yellow remained visible above the calm waters around.
The beach sprang into action – pleasure boats out in the bay and at shore rushed out to the scene, as everyone became aware of what had happened. It was a family, there was a child on board, nobody can have survived, they could drown. Eyes remained fixed on the spot, but no facts were available. All day, questions, rumours, reminiscences of the business and the people who ran it.
Thankfully, it transpired all survived and there was no serious injury. A couple and their young son, and the pilot, were taken to hospital. The next day, walking along the shore to West End, the broken remains of the seaplane sat in the shallow waters having been towed in, waiting for investigation, but it’s final flight done.