Port St Mary Lifeboat Station - Callouts: 6 June 2001
Weather rain;Visibility poor in rain; Wind SW 4-5.
The pilot of a light aircraft which crashed into the sea was killed. The American, twin-engined Beech 58 crashed into the sea a mile from Ronaldsway Airport at 2.20pm.
Police confirmed the plane was piloted by a local man and was destined for Gloucestershire Airport.
They say it took off in an easterly direction and headed straight out to sea.
Police said the pilot contacted Ronaldsway shortly after take-off to report problems with the plane.
He informed them of his intention to return to Ronaldsway and was given clearance to land but contact was then lost.
Police, firefighters, the coastguard, the Airport fire service rescue boat, the crews of Port St Mary and Douglas lifeboats and an RAF Sea King helicopter from RAF Valley, Anglesey, helped in the search. The crew of a local lobster fishing boat, the "Blue Fin", also assisted (it belongs to the Port St Mary lifeboats emergency coxswain).
The first alert came from the Ronaldsway air traffic control as soon as they had lost contact with the aircraft.
Port St Mary lifeboat was mustered immediately and launched at 2:30 pm with a crew of five. Douglas lifeboat was launched 6 minutes later.
RAF Sea King, Rescue R122, arrived on scene at 2:44 pm . Their quick response was because they were already airborne on their way to assist a dismasted yacht some 30 miles to the south of the Island (in this incident one crew man had been slightly injured during the dismasting, and other ships had gone to its aid thus releasing the helicopter to the more serious incident). Also on scene was the Airport rescue craft, Ronaldsway Rescue.
On arriving at the scene the helicopter crew found a lot of small floating wreckage; Port St Mary Lifeboat arrived at the scene shortly afterwards. At the direction of the helicopter pilot some wreckage was investigated and recovered. At 3:07 pm the helicopter crew and the coxswain of Port St Mary lifeboat agreed that the crash could not have been survived. At this point R122 was released to go back to the aid of the dismasted yacht.
MFV "Blue Fin" arrived at the scene to assist and shortly afterwards so did the Douglas lifeboat.
At 3:43 pm Ronaldsway Rescue was released to take the debris they had managed to recover into Derbyhaven to a waiting Coastguards unit.
A small amount of wreckage from the plane was recovered and taken by both lifeboats and MFV "Blue Fin" to Port St Mary at 3:55 pm.
Police and Air Accident Investigators are currently attempting to locate and recover the rest of the aircraft from the sea bed. However as at 18th June, weather and strong currents have prevented divers from checking sonar contacts of possible wreckage on the sea bed.
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