Police search for missing flyer in English Channel
French police search for a solo flyer Sunday after his plane lost contact on route to Jersey.
17 November 2008
CHERBOURG - French police began a major search Sunday after a solo flyer's aircraft disappeared in the English Channel.
According to maritime police spokesman Yann Bizien, air traffic controllers from the Channel island of Jersey lost contact with the Cirrus SR22, an eight-metre-long monoplane, at around 18h00 GMT, 22 kilometres from the French port of Cherbourg.
"We are unable at this time to offer any information as to the causes or the circumstances of this accident, neither wreckage nor the pilot have been found," Bizien added.
The plane took off from London and was destined for Jersey.
Air and sea branches of the emergency services were mobilised, with an aircraft and a helicopter from the French navy quickly sent out and three rescue boats also dispatched to the scene.
A fourth passenger ship was also on its way to help after responding to a request by maritime authorities.
Bizien said that weather conditions on the channel were "not extreme" with the sea slightly choppy, which would help the rescue operation.
A surface temperature of 13.5 degrees Celsius "would theoretically enable a person even of weak resistance to survive three hours in the water -- up to nine hours for a strong person," he added.
Shortly before 23h00 GMT, no wreckage or fuel was found.
Officials said the search would be suspended in the middle of the night but would begin again at dawn.
In January, a Beechcraft plane with three people aboard crashed into the sea off Cherbourg, with one of the victims rescued, Bizien added.
[AFP / Expatica]