Ted called out, “Give me some slack but be ready to heave when I raise my hand, we don’t have much time, men, and with him being inured and unconscious shock will arrive sooner than usual,” he felt the rope slacken slightly but knew his men had the tension as he crawled to the Cherokee, “passenger looks okay, bruised but conscious.”
Ted realised the closer he got to the plane, the thinner would become and the greater the risk of it sliding under the water; he was as close as he dared get when he glanced at the cockpit to watch as Joe began cutting Clem’s harness free, “Good man,” he thought as he made ready to slide the rope across.
Inside the plane, Joe had no decision to make; Clem had to be the priority, he would be able get himself out once he released Clem but with him in the seat, both men would be trapped.
Ted grabbed the end of the rope as it landed inches from his hand, months of training came into play as the situation they trained for, but hoped would never be realised played out in front of the crews; he raised himself slightly and half throwing and half sliding got the rope to the edge of the cockpit window.
Joe took a slow step towards the window, realising any sudden movement could send the plane down and doom he and Clem to an icy death in seconds. Joe eased his body to the window and took a hold on the rope he pulled enough through the gap to wrap around Clem and then thumped the glass to signal Ted, who raised his hand to signal the rescue team to pull Clem out.
The pull was slow and steady, otherwise the plane may topple with the balance altered; Clem’s limp body slowly emerged and got slid across to the team, “Quick throw me another rope!” Ted yelled above the howling winds. “Half of you take Clem to the hospital and the rest stay and get the passenger out with me.” The team throw the rope out to Ted and as planned the rope hit the ice inches from his hands, taking a steady aim, Ted launched the rope again, as he watched its arc, he realised the rope would land short by a few feet and Joe would have to chance reaching across the cracked ice to snatch a length.
In the cabin, Joe saw the rope arc and land on the broken ice, even the slight bump it made caused more ice to split from the crash site and this caused the plane to move its position slightly, “I have no choice now,” he muttered, “I stay here and die in the icy grave of the plane or I risk grabbing the rope, even though my moving will cause the plane to sink faster.”
As if in response to his worries, the plane lurched forward and he got thrown against the dashboard and got winded. He tried to move slow but with the water rising and losing sensation in his toes, he realised he had to throw caution to the wind, he realised he had one chance and the struggle and worry would be over for all time; he climbed on the pilot’s seat as the plane sank and made a dive through the already broken window for the rope, with a struggle he landed not far from the edge of the ice and managed to grab the end of the rope, as he did the plane sank suddenly; trapping him against the ice floe.