E. Mike Papirny saved Ronald J. Austin and David G. Smith from drowning, Fort Franklin, Northwest Territories, August 2, 1970. An airplane containing Austin, 48, professional pilot, and Smith, 31, aircraft mechanic, crashed in deep water while attempting a takeoff from Douglas Bay, which was covered with waves six feet high. Austin jumped into the cold water; while Smith, who could not swim, jumped onto one of the floats of the partially submerged aircraft. Papirny, 47, professional pilot, witnessed the accident from share and, in a light aircraft equipped with floats, went to the aid of the two men. In hazardous wind and wave conditions, he taxied his plane two and a half miles in rough water and, maneuvering carefully, proceeded first to Austin and then to Smith. In each situation, Papirny idled the engine, stepped onto one of the floats and, with difficulty due to the craft’s pitching and rolling, took the man aboard. At times the waves threatened to capsize the plane. The rescue took more than an hour; and when both Austin and Smith were aboard, Papirny then transported them to shore.
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