Two veterans of the Second World War, both in their eighties, yesterday told how they survived when the plane being flown by their 79-year-old friend crashed into the sea.
Arthur Record and Denis Stanley, both 82, and their pilot, Bernard Maslin, all former search and rescue helicopter pilots, were rescued by a fishing boat after their single-engined Cessna 172 went down three miles off the Isles of Scilly.
Mr Record, who served in the Fleet Air Arm during the Second World War, said from hospital in Truro, Cornwall, yesterday: "Thank God I am alive." Mr Stanley, from Chedworth, Gloucestershire, said: "It has not put me off flying."
Mr Maslin, a former Navy helicopter pilot from Cirencester, who was the last to be pulled from the water, was still undergoing tests. Paying tribute to his flying skill, Mr Record said: "Bernard did a superb, classic ditch landing."
The trio were all members of the Fleet Air Arm Squadron and meet once a month to go flying from Land's End. They were six or seven miles from the Scillies when their engine cut out at around 2,000ft and they sent a mayday call.
"We saw a boat and decided it was our best chance to glide down as near as possible to it," said Mr Record.
They were in "big waves" for about 20 minutes before they saw the trawler Semper Allegro approaching. They were hauled out of the water by the crew, who were, Mr Record said, "superb, professional, showing kindness beyond praise".Reuse content