Helicopter rescues pilot lost in clouds

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A couple and their baby being flown in a light aircraft were saved by a Royal Navy helicopter after the inexperienced pilot became lost in cloud and the plane ran low on fuel.

A couple and their baby being flown in a light aircraft were saved by a Royal Navy helicopter after the inexperienced pilot became lost in cloud and the plane ran low on fuel.

Disaster was averted only after the search and rescue helicopter shepherded the plane to an RAF base and air traffic control talked the pilot down.

It later emerged that the pilot had no experience of flying or landing in heavy cloud.

The couple were flying from Cambridgeshire to Cornwall with their 12-month-old child on Sunday night when the pilot was unable to land the Zodiac plane at Perranporth as planned because of cloud.

The pilot realised the aircraft's fuel levels were running low and tried to fly to the RAF base at St Mawgan, near Newquay.

However, he became lost in the cloud and in desperation broadcast a Mayday signal which was picked up by a London monitoring station. A helicopter from the Royal Naval Air Station at Culdrose, near Helston, was sent to rescue the family and shepherd the plane to safety.

At one point during the rescue, the helicopter completely lost sight of the plane as it tried to guide the aircraft through the cloud.

Eventually the plane was landed safety, even though a spokesman for the RNAS revealed the pilot had never attempted a radar-based landing in heavy cloud before.

Yesterday, the couple and their baby, who were put up at RNAS Culdrose after their ordeal, thanked the naval air station for its help.

The pilot, who has not been named, also thanked his rescuers. He said: "We are very grateful for the professionalism of the Royal Navy and for everything that Culdrose has done for us. We are just so relieved to have landed safely."

Comments