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Area Boy Scouts assist pilot of downed plane
Assistant Scoutmaster Bryan Puckette and nephew Forrest, 17, experienced more excitement that usual when the troop was canoeing down the Congaree River near Columbia, S.C., on Dec. 20. The group came upon a plane in the water moments after a crash landing.

Historic plane comes to airport

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When three area men joined their Scouting troop on an annual canoe trip over the Christmas holiday, they were met with a little more than the typical camping experience.

“I saw this plane bank around to the left,” Flowery Branch resident Bryan Puckette said. “He was just above the trees, and he was sputtering. I thought, ‘He’s in trouble.’”

Puckette and his two nephews, Dawson and Forrest, were on the trip with Boy Scout Troop 597 out of Dacula. The group was canoeing down the Congaree River near Columbia, S.C., on Dec. 20 when it first noticed the single-engine plane flying low to the ground. Bryan Puckette, an assistant scoutmaster with the troop, began paddling faster to the front of the group.

When the troop next saw the plane, it was already underwater. The pilot swam to shore, and was able to call 911, having protected his cellphone in a plastic bag, Puckette said.

The group was able to provide exact GPS coordinates so emergency crews could find the location faster.

One of Puckette’s nephews, West Hall High student Dawson Puckette, helped make a fire so the man could warm up in the cold temperatures.

“Since there’s an increased risk of hypothermia on these winter outings and the water outings, Dawson always insists on bringing emergency fire starters,” Bryan Puckette said. “So it got the fire started faster.”

It’s an experience the three say they’ll never forget.

“We have a lot of fun,” Bryan Puckette said about the group’s regular trips. “But this was pretty different.”