Skip to main content

Air Canada flight finds stranded Australian yacht

By Ed Payne, CNN
October 18, 2012 -- Updated 2315 GMT (0715 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A yacht -- adrift for 9 days, out of fuel and with a broken mast -- activated its emergency signal
  • Maritime officials called an Air Canada flight bound for Sydney for help
  • The Boeing 777 passengers and crew searched, and the vessel was found within 25 minutes

(CNN) -- They were ready to land in Australia, at the end of a 14-hour international flight, when the 270 passengers of an Air Canada flight were suddenly thrown into a high-seas search-and-rescue operation.

Flight AC033 diverted after pilot Andrew Robertson got a call from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority on Tuesday to help search for a yachtsman who had sailed from Sydney two weeks earlier.

"If we have the fuel, could we investigate an emergency beacon that had just gone off," came the question from maritime officials, Robertson told CNN Canadian affiliate CBC News.

Down below, Glenn Ey of Queensland, Australia, was being tossed about in his crippled 36-foot yacht -- out of fuel and with a broken mast after a storm.

"I thought I had a very good chance of getting back to Sydney without assistance," Ey said after nine days adrift. "I couldn't see any evidence of Sydney, and I had no idea of my exact position, and it was at that point I set off the emergency position indicator radio beacon."

The search began as the Boeing 777, on its way from Vancouver, dropped from 37,000 feet to 4,000 feet. Robertson asked the passengers and crew to train their eyes on the choppy waters below.

"I think everyone's heart started beating a little bit faster," said Jill Barber, a Canadian singer, who was making the trip to Sydney for a concert. "They said ... we'd really appreciate it if everyone could look out their windows, and if anyone has any binoculars that could help us identify this yacht, that would be really helpful."

It didn't take too long to find Ey as passengers and crew scanned the waters below.

"We're doing this big sweeping right turn and almost immediately they said, 'Oh, we see something,' " Robertson said. "We were totally ecstatic."

Total from time from activation of the emergency beacon until he was found by the Air Canada flight: about 25 minutes.

"You know, we cheered and we applauded and I think we all kind of felt a sense of pride," Barber said.

A merchant vessel helped the yacht until the New South Wales water police arrived from Sydney late Wednesday, about 270 nautical miles off the coast.

Truck hits plane, driver blames beverage can

Flier's alleged 50-day bender ends badly

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
ADVERTISEMENT