EG Couple Survives Plane Crash Off Quonset

by | Mar 31, 2024

Above: Alysia and Paul Larson at lunch in Chatham, Mass., Saturday, March 30, just hours before the crash. Photo courtesy of Alysia Larson

‘I decided, we are not going to die today.’

Alysia and Paul Larson were just a half mile from the runway at Quonset when the single engine on the Comanche Alysia was flying lost power Saturday (3/30/24) around 3 p.m. Alysia called in a mayday to Quonset Tower and the couple prepared for impact. 

“The next thing we knew, we were in the water,” she recounted Sunday in an interview with News Channel 10

The East Greenwich couple had started that morning in different airplanes, making a day of a routine plane inspection drop off at Mansfield, Mass. They flew to Chatham, Mass., on the Cape, and got lunch before flying out to Provincetown then on to Mansfield, where they dropped off the Cessna 150 Paul had been piloting and both got into the Comanche Alysia had been flying and headed back to Quonset. 

The view from Alysia Larson’s Comanche as it flew over Cape Cod Saturday, March 30, a couple of hours before the plane lost power and crashed into Narragansett Bay. Photo courtesy of Alysia Larson

When the engine went out, long hours of training kicked in for both Alysia and Paul, who have been married 26 years and have five children. Alysia said an aircrew survival course she took in Pennsylvania proved invaluable. For one scenario during that course, she said, “we had makeshift simulated cockpits .. and we were pushed backwards into a pool and we had to escape out of this contraption.”

She added, “That course was also about survival, about what it takes to survive. It’s a mentality, it’s a mindset. All of those things came to the forefront of my mind. I definitely asked God to help us and thanked him that we were even crawling out of this plane onto the wing, it was amazing. I was also saying, we are not going to die today.”

According to Alysia, Paul had the foresight to unlock the only door in the plane prior to impact, which may have been a big contributor to them being able to get out of the plane quickly. 

When it came time to leave the plane, Alysia noted all the things she wished she could bring – her logbook, her purse, her flying certificates, expensive equipment. 

“Then suddenly you realize these aren’t important at all. Surviving is the important thing,” she said. “That was a freeze frame moment where we both looked at each other and said we have to leave it all. I did have the mindset to keep my phone.”

Once they were out of the plane, they each took a wing and Alysia called 911, explaining they were in Narragansett Bay when asked her location. Before long, though, the plane sank under the water and the couple had to start swimming. 

The aim originally was the runway at Quonset they’d been flying toward. They are both strong swimmers but the water was a chilly 42 degrees and Paul, in particular, had heavy clothes on. They stayed together. Alysia said Sunday she wasn’t sure how long they were in the water but it felt like they covered about half the distance to shore and maybe they were swimming for 10 to 15 minutes. 

“We were starting to slow down,” she said. “There was a moment when I was like, I’m not sure we’re going to make it. Then I decided, we’re not going to die today.” 

That’s around the time help arrived, by way of a boat from the Dept. of Environmental Management. Once on land, North Kingstown FD rescue evaluated them then took them to the emergency department at Rhode Island Hospital, where they were treated for hypothermia and exposure and released.

Alysia said she grew up in small planes. Her parents separated when she was young and her father routinely picked her up for visits in a two-seater Cessna 150. 

She studied for physical therapy, married and had five children. Flying moved to the back burner. But when her oldest, Chara, decided to join Civil Air Patrol a few years ago, it woke up the urge within Alysia and she got her pilot’s license in 2021. Her husband followed her lead. Kara and Alysia both have their commercial rating.

“We are not going to stop flying,” Alysia said Sunday, noting that flying is “much safer” than getting in a car. 

One thing she’d do differently: make sure the life vests are easily accessible. They were in the baggage compartment after the quick swap from one plane to another in Mansfield. 

She credits their survival on “our training, our swimming, our faith.” 

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Bruce Mastracchio
Bruce Mastracchio
April 1, 2024 6:59 am

Thank God you both are safe. Keep flying.

Catherine Rodgers
Catherine Rodgers
April 1, 2024 10:30 am

So thankful they are safe.

Marie
Marie
April 1, 2024 11:44 am

Here’s to two very special parents of five!

Anonymous
Anonymous
April 1, 2024 9:08 pm

“ …I was also saying, we are not going to die today.”

As many times as I’ve reread this story one thing finally dawned.

Courage is not the absence of fear but the ability to overcome it. Your children are blessed.

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