For Immediate Release

July 11, 2001

On July 18, 2000, a routine flight to practice take offs and landings turned into moments of fright for an Eagle River pilot who lost his airplane in Three Mile Lake. But the location of the lake, in the middle of the Girl Scouts' Camp Togowoods, proved to be lucky for pilot Dean Eisberg. Four camp staff lived up to the Girl Scout motto and took to the water to rescue Eisberg.

Shortly after takeoff from the lake, Eisberg's Aeronca began diving. "All I could see was water," said the pilot. In minutes the aircraft hit water and began sinking.

On shore at camp were the waterfront staff Laura Pettersen and Dianne Rodman along with wilderness trip leader, Amy von Diest and counselor Andrea Cacek. They witnessed the crash and as the pilot scrambled onto the floats the women launched canoes.

"The plane sank in just 10 minutes," said Eisberg, who was very glad to see the rescuers approaching. "They were very protective of me. They did everything right."

Laura Pettersen saw the plane hit the trees. She did not hesitate to go into action. Her skill in the canoe and leadership qualities meant that the private pilot was soon out of danger.

"The whole event was a learning opportunity for the Girl Scouts attending camp at Togowoods", says Kelly Feder, camp director. "We are all proud of the staff's efforts." Camp Togowoods is owned and operated by the Girl Scout Susitna Council of Alaska.

In recognition of the rescue, the Federal Aviation Administration presented an Alaskan Region FAA award to the heroines for their quick thinking and action at a campfire ceremony. More than 80 Girl Scouts were present when four FAA woman professionals placed medallions around the necks of the rescuers while Robert Lewis, FAA Regional Executive Manager, read a citation. The campers cheered their counselors enthusiastically.

Council Director Jane Straight said the camp staff lived up to the Girl Scout motto and were real life examples for the young girls of the power of women in today's world.