Pilot Survives Plane Crash and 18 Hours Treading Water

It's the incredible story of a man whose luck was as great as his will to live. His plane crashed and he spent 17 hours treading water and swimming in the frigid Lake Huron, but he lived to tell the tale. INSIDE EDITION has more.

It's an incredible tale of survival, and it's making headlines around the world.

Michael Trapp was flying a single-engine Cessna when it developed engine trouble. Trapp crash-landed in Lake Huron, one of the five Great Lakes.
With his wife Julie at his side, he relived the terrifying moments.

"The windshield blew in and the water was right in my face immediately. [I] swam to the back of the plane, grabbed the elevator, which is the back part of the plane, said, 'Goodbye, girl,' and she was gone. I watched her go down, it only took about 20 seconds," Trapp said.

For the next 18 hours, Trapp treaded water. He also swam 17 miles to try to reach the shoreline.

When a boat came close, he tried an ingenious way to make his presence known.

"I went through my wallet and I had a credit card there that was shiny so I took it out and I was trying to reflect the sun back to the boat so they would see something shiny in the water and maybe go investigate it, but nobody saw that," he said.

Trapp was finally spotted by another passing boat and pulled aboard.

"I did not get a scratch in the plane crash. The injuries came from swimming for 18 hours, my muscles were torn," he told INSIDE EDITION.

So how could you stay alive in a similar situation? To demonstrate some life-saving techniques, INSIDE EDITION joined forces with the U.S. Coast Guard.

Reporter April Woodard went overboard to learn survival skills. Without a life vest, you have to be resourceful.
First, Woodard learned various floating techniques like the "dead man's float." The point of floating is to conserve energy.

Officer Chris Martinez explained how she could tie her jeans and inflate them, but it's not an easy task.

Woodard also Trapp's method of using her credit card to signal for help.

Another option is to keep waving your arms at a slow and steady pace, and you might be seen.

And as for swimming to shore…beware. It's never as close as it looks.

Now Michael Trapp can even joke about his brush with death in the waters of Lake Huron: "I think I'm calling the airlines next time," he said.