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Pair's 'miraculous escape' after aircraft crashes into Solent at Calshot

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The pair were rescued minutes after the crash (picture: RNLI)
The pair were rescued minutes after the crash (picture: RNLI)

TWO people had a “miraculous escape” after a light aircraft crashed into the Solent off Calshot yesterday (Sunday) afternoon.

A Hamble Lifeboat crew plucked the pair from the water within minutes of the Cirrus single-engine plane splashing down shortly before 3pm. It is believed its emergency parachute deployed when the engine cut out.

The casualties, a man and a woman, were taken to the lifeboat’s station on the Hamble River where they were assessed by paramedics. An air ambulance had been dispatched, as well as a land ambulance, but these were not required as both were confirmed to be safe and well.

Police and fire crews also rushed to the scene of the crash, which took place while hundreds of bathers enjoyed the sunny weather. The plane landed upside down with the parachute trailing behind, within metres of kayakers and kite surfers.

At the time it came down, the craft had been on a return flight from Exeter to its base at Solent Airport in Lee-on-Solent.

The rescue effort was coordinated by HM Coastguard Lymington, whose spokesperson said the lifeboat crew was able to respond quickly as it was already in the vicinity at the time.

“The occupants of the plane were only in the water for about one minute,” the spokesperson told the A&T.

The wreckage on the shore (picture: www.renoufdesign.co.uk)
The wreckage on the shore (picture: www.renoufdesign.co.uk)

“The aircraft came down on a rescue parachute system. These type of planes have an in-built emergency parachute which was deployed. The engine cut out, presumably.

“Both Calshot lifeboats launched and aided with the recovery. There was a favourable on-shore wind and the parachute dragged the aircraft onto the beach – at this stage it was fully inverted.”

As luck would have it, a member of the Calshot RNLI team was a professional pilot and knew how to make the plane safe. He was able to disconnect its batteries, magnetos and fuel supply.

The coastguard team secured the craft to the beach while awaiting a recovery team. It was then lifted by crane that evening to the top of the beach where it remained with police overnight.

Insurance assessors and recovery experts were due at the scene this morning to arrange its dismantling and removal.

“It certainly was a miraculous escape,” the coastguard spokesperson continued. “The day was saved by the deployment of the emergency parachute.

“This was a coastguard-led operation as it was a maritime incident, but all the emergency services worked very well together to effect a successful recovery and outcome.”

Dramatic pictures of the rescue were posted by police and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service on Twitter and Facebook. New Forest fire response officer Paul Reddish tweeted it was “not an everyday call”.

A local police Facebook post said: “The Waterside team were part of a multi-agency response to a light aircraft crashing into the Solent off the shore from Calshot.

“Fortunately there were no casualties and our colleagues from Coastguard and RNLI were able to secure the occupants and take them to safety.

“With assistance from a range of emergency services, the craft was safely secured on the beach. Thank you to everyone involved and members of public for their patience whilst dealing with this incident.”

The crash is due to be investigated by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.

* A previous version of the story referred to Hamble RNLI when it should have been Hamble Lifeboat

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