What You Can Learn From the Pilot Who Crashed in the Canadian Wilderness and Vlogged His Rescue

After his plane crashed in the middle of a remote forest in Quebec, American pilot Matt Lehtinen did what any well-prepared airman would do: He kept his cool and tried to get help. But he also went a step beyond that, and recorded the entire ordeal on his smartphone.

On July 27, Lehtinen was flying his Cirrus SR22—a small, single-engine plane—when his engine went out, and he was forced to make a crash landing, Jalopnik reports. Once he was on the ground, he decided to turn his camera on and document the experience.

“I’m going to take this vlog, just so people can learn from this experience, so something good comes out of it,” he says in the video, which he posted to YouTube.

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Lehtinen survived the crash landing in the forest largely thanks to a unique feature on his aircraft: It’s equipped with a parachute, called a CAPS, that allows the entire plane to float to the ground in an emergency. When his engine lost oil pressure, he was left with no choice but to deploy the parachute. As you can imagine, it wasn’t a gentle landing. He surveys the wrecked plane in the video, pointing out how a tree severed the right cockpit door completely in half, luckily only scraping his leg.

“I just had to pull the CAPS parachute. I’m in the middle of Quebec, trying to get my SOS to work,” Lehtinen says at the beginning of the video. “This could be a while.”

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While trying to send an SOS on his emergency transponder, he built a fire to create a smoke signal using some fire-starting supplies he carried with him in the plane. That turned out to be the key to his rescue. Shortly after the crash, another plane in the area had been contacted by Canada’s Joint Rescue Control Centre and tasked with searching for Lehtinen. In the comments on the YouTube video, a crew member from that plane said the smoke signal was a big help in finding the crash site.

Hours later, Lehtinen managed to make contact with rescuers on his transponder. A C-130 transport plane then passed over his location and dropped a walkie-talkie so he could communicate with the rescue team more easily. Then, a Royal Canadian Air Force helicopter arrived and airlifted Lehtinen out to safety—check it out in the full video above.

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Despite his brush with danger, the crash isn’t keeping Lehtinen out of the sky: In a later video, he says he’s in the market for a new plane. Heed Lehtinen’s advice: Ensure you have the proper safety and survival gear no matter what kind of adventure you’re embarking on. It could mean the difference between life and death.


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