After getting a weekend pass, Eastwood decided to hitch a ride to Seattle in a twin-engine Beechcraft. According to Schickel, the biographer, it was a ride from hell.
Eastwood was looking to spend some time with his girlfriend and see his parents, who had relocated there. During the ride, the door popped open, and couldn’t be kept shut so Eastwood held it closed and then jerry-rigged it shut with some loose cables. In an effort to avoid an oncoming storm, the pilot chose to fly above it, causing the air to thin out.
The in-flight oxygen system where Eastwood sat wasn’t working, causing him to get light headed. He found an oxygen mask, but that wasn’t working either. Then the plane was running out of fuel, so the pilot flew to Port Reyes for a crash landing at sea. It was successful, but the pilot and Eastwood — the only two men in the plane — had to swim to shore. They didn’t know it at the time, but the sea was infested with sharks. Luckily they both made it to shore after swimming from the late afternoon until dark.
Maybe it was what inspired Eastwood to tell a similar story in his 2016 film, “Sully.”