When the engine on Jean Dupon’s light plane died on approach to Martha’s Vineyard Airport on Saturday night, he had two things going for him: almost 30 years’ experience as a pilot and the biggest full moon in 20 years.

Mr. Dupon, 67, of Edgartown, did exactly what he should have under the circumstances, said fellow pilot and Martha’s Vineyard Airport manager Sean Flynn. He pointed the plane towards State Beach.

“Flying over the beaches on a moonlit night like that, it’s almost like they’re neon. They light up,” said Mr. Flynn. “As a pilot you’re trained that if you have to do an off-site landing, a beach is a good place to do it.”

So about 8.45 p.m. Mr. Dupon ended his flight from Hyannis in the shallow water along Joseph Sylvia State Beach in Oak Bluffs, roughly halfway between the two bridges. He and his passenger, Susan King, 45, also of Edgartown, escaped serious injury.

There was certainly an element of luck to it. The plane clipped a massive new wooden groin built across the beach to control erosion, which ripped off its landing gear. Had Mr. Dupon come in just a little lower, the plane itself would have slammed into the groin.

But mostly their escape was down to good flying by the man better known as the chef and owner of the Vineyard Haven restaurant Le Grenier.

“What he managed to do with that airplane, without the engine running, was pretty miraculous,” said Mr. Flynn.

“I have never flown with him, but a number of people I respect have, and they all say he is a very technical flyer and a great pilot,” said Mr. Flynn.

“From what I’ve seen out at the scene, I concur. If you’re going to take a snapshot of what his experience level was, judging by what he did that night, he’s a fantastic pilot. He did everything right.

“I don’t know that everybody put in that same situation would have had that same outcome.”

Police and emergency services personnel were quickly on the scene and found Mr. Dupon and Ms. King shaken but not seriously hurt.

One of the first at the scene, State trooper Robert Branca said when he arrived the plane was in the water.

“It was not submerged, but it was in the waves,” he said.

The pilot and his passenger were treated by EMTs at the scene and then taken to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital to have some minor injuries attended to, but were released within 90 minutes, Trooper Branca said.

Trooper Branca said he conducted a brief interview with both Mr. Dupon and his passenger, who were lucid and “pretty collected.”

“They were both lucky. To hit a wooden structure on the beach and still be able to land it without flipping it over, that’s pretty good,” he said.

Mr. Flynn believes Mr. Dupon may actually have been lucky to have taken his landing gear off on the groin.

“If you do a water landing in a retractable gear airplane, they tell you to retract the gear.

“In this case, he was unable to pull his gear up, because his engine wasn’t running. But the groin took the rear gear off and the nose wheel collapsed back up into its housing so he had a nice flat surface when he hit the water,” Mr. Flynn said.

Mr. Dupon left the Vineyard to go overseas this week, but in responses to messages on Facebook, he thanked well-wishers and declared the safe landing “a miracle.”

He also said he thought the plane was “totaled.”

“End of my flying days,” he wrote.

As for the plane, it remained for several days as an unusual sightseers’ attraction on State Beach.

There was damage to the tail, probably caused by the same impact which tore off the undercarriage, the propeller was bent, the right wing was damaged, and there was damage to the underside of the fuselage.

It was removed over two days; first, on Tuesday, the wings were taken off, and then the fuselage was winched up a beach path —so as to avoid damage to the dunes — and onto a truck on Wednesday.

The aircraft now is back in Mr. Dupon’s hangar at the airport. The Federal Aviation Administration is continuing to examine the wreckage, and the records of recent work done on it, in the hope of finding a cause for the engine failure.