CROSBY -- The mirror-like reflection off Serpent Lake Thursday morning was picturesque.
Pilot James Hakes of Deerwood thought it was a perfect day for practicing "glassy" landings with his floatplane.
However, the day turned out to be less than perfect for the 56-year-old Hakes.
Hakes crashed his single-engine, float two-seater airplane into Serpent Lake shortly after 9 a.m. He escaped without injures and his airplane sank in about 55 feet of water, the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Department said.
Hakes was treated at the Cuyuna Regional Medical Center in Crosby and released.
Hakes said in an interview after he was released from the hospital that he decided to take his airplane out on Serpent Lake to practice his glassy landings, since the lake looked like a mirror. He said this type of landing is difficult because the pilot cannot tell what the altitude distance is to the lake.
Once in the air, Hakes prepared for the landing and he said everything was going perfectly. He gradually lowered the plane when one of the floats pulled away.
"I couldn't straighten it out," said Hakes. "I knew something was wrong with the float and it started to go down.
"I decided to open the door, I took my seat belt off and swam. It all happened in slow motion. I wasn't going that fast."
Hakes said the airplane went in nose first and began to sink. Hakes, who did not have a life jacket on, didn't have to swim far to safety. Pastor Paul Mattson, who happen to see the crash, rescued Hakes with a boat. They watched the airplane as it became submerged in the water.
During the crash, Hakes said he was not worried about being injured. He was concerned about his plane. Hakes has been a pilot for 16 years. He built the airplane in 1996 and flew it to places around the world, including Alaska and the Colorado Rockies. He said his airplane is strong and everything was working fine.
"I don't want to spend any more time to rebuild it," he said.
Hakes said he escaped the crash with only a scratch on his shoulder.
Assisting the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Department at the scene was the Crosby Police Department and the DNR. The Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the crash.
JENNIFER STOCKINGER can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5851.
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