Harlingen man lands plane on Padre Island when engine burns CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) — A Harlingen man was rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter crew Thursday after spending the night on Padre Island, where he had made an emergency landing in his small plane. Gary Heavin, 28, had been headed home to Harlingen from Corpus Christ! Wednesday night, flying along Padre Island, when his engine began leaking oil and caught fire. He landed it on an isolated spot near the Laguna Madre, about 45 miles south of Corpus Christi's Bob Hall Pier. Heavin said the trip from 6,500 feet in the air to his final landing spot in the soft sand was "an experience that kept me busy for a few minutes." KATHY'S CAJUN KITCHEN "a bar & grtN & oyster bar" GRAND OPENING FRI..OCT.21 His problems began with a rapid oil leak that drained the engine within four to five minutes, he said. Oil spattered the plane's windshield, making it difficult to see the ground and any potential landing site. "Then the engine threw a piston and there was this incredible vibration. I felt like it was going to disintegrate before I got in on the ground," he said. The vibrations were so intense that they knocked the magnetic compass from its metal post in the cockpit, he said. As he was making an approach to the beach, he was forced to wipe oil from the windshield with a rag in order to see. He aborted the beach landing for a wider area further inland, he said. When he landed, the "nose wheel bent up and the wing dipped into the sand." Once on the ground, he radioed his coordinates to Houston and put out a Mayday signal. He was told a highway patrol vehicle would pick him up. "I waited 40 to 50 minutes and then, using wind direction and my watch, I started walking to the beach. One and a half hours later, when I still hadn't found it, I retraced my steps." As he was walking back to his stricken aircraft, a Coast Guard helicopter flew tantalizingly above him for a brief moment.