Monday 25 March 2019

Two swam to safety following aircraft crash

Lesley-Anne McKeown

A pilot and his passenger swam to safety after they were forced to ditch a small plane into a lough in Northern Ireland.

They were forced to land the single engine light aircraft on Lough Erne, Co Fermanagh, after getting into difficulties this afternoon.

Jude McNeice, from Belfast Coastguard, said the pilot's skill had saved their lives.

She said: "They are two very lucky men indeed."

It is understood the pair were flying from Dublin to Enniskillen when they were forced to make an emergency landing on water close to the shore.

The incident was reported just before 4.30pm.

The Irish Helicopter, operating at Shannon, was tasked to the scene at Upper Lough Erne, near Derrylin alongside the RNLI inshore lifeboat from Carrybridge and Coastguard teams.

Police and ambulance personnel were also called out.

Ms McNeice said the plane's crew had been able to make a distress call but a member of the public had also seen the two men swim safely to dry land.

She added: "We received a 999 call from a member of the public who had seen the aircraft ditching on the water and who also witnessed the crew swimming safely to shore.

"We spoke with the pilot and passenger and they were checked out by the ambulance service. We are very glad to say we were able to establish they were safe and well.

"The pilot is undoubtedly very skilled. To be able to land a small plane on water, especially on a lough as complicated as Lough Erne was excellent."

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