Ferdinand Puentes, 39, was among the eight passengers in the Cessna Grand Caravan that lost power and crashed off the coast of Molokai, Hawaii, last month.
Puentes captured much of the terrifying ordeal on his GoPro camera.
"There wasn't panic or anything. It was very orderly. It wasn't like any of the movies or the TV shows," passenger C. Phillip Hollstein Jr. told The Associated Press.
Puentes' footage shows passengers calmly exiting the plane, which was quickly filling up with water.
"I actually had two GoPro cameras, but the one on the stick was rolling," he told HawaiiNewsNow.
He tried to swim for the coast line, but exhaustion quickly took over.
"A lot of things was (sic) just racing but you can't actually say, 'Oh, I'm going to do this and that.' It's pretty much everything is on instinct. Just trying to survive," he said.
"Steel-toed boots, heavy work jeans, and long sleeve shirt. It was hard and exhausting to swim with all that," Puentes told KHON 2.
Pilot Clyde Kawasaki tried to corral his passengers together in the rough waters, and gave Puentes an extra seat cushion to float on as they waited an hour for the Coast Guard to rescue them.
"The way how he handled the flight and everything, he kept his calm, it's just amazing how he did it," Puentes told ABC News. "He is my hero."
Puentes and Kawasaki are now good friends.
Yesterday, Puentes boarded a plane for the first time since the December 11 crash — to overcome his new fear of flying.
"It hurts, but you have to heal my way of healing and move forward," Puentes said, adding that his life has changed since the crash:
"A lot of things seem petty now. Can't take things for granted."
"Physically I'm fine. Emotionally I'm still a little bit shaken," he admitted to HawaiiNewsNow.
"I still have a hard time sleeping at night."