Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Piper PA-28-161 Cherokee Warrior II, G-CDER: Fatal accident occurred August 06, 2016 off Winchelsea Beach, East Sussex, United Kingdom

NTSB Identification: CEN16WA318
Accident occurred Saturday, August 06, 2016 in Winchelsea, East Sussex, United Kingdom
Aircraft: PIPER PA28, registration:
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On August 6, 2016, a Piper PA-28-161 airplane, G-CDER, sank after ditching near Winchelsea, East Sussex. The pilot was fatally injured.

This investigation is under the jurisdiction and control of the government of the United Kingdom. Any further information may be obtained from:

Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB)

Telephone: +44 0 1252 51300

Facsimile: +44 0 1252 376699

Email: investigations@aaib.gov.uk

This report is for informational purposes only and contains only information released by, or obtained from, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.

The body of a pilot who went missing after his light aircraft crashed into the sea has been found.

Simon Wells had been missing since August 7 after his Piper PA-28-161 Cherokee Warrior II aircraft crashed into the sea half a mile from Winchelsea Beach in East Sussex.

The plane plummeted into the water just after 5pm around half a mile off Rye Harbour.

Coastguard helicopters and lifeboats combed the sea for survivors but had to call off the search when darkness fell.

The 44-year-old’s family feared the worst and released a photo in an attempt to aid the search.

At the time, a coastguard spokeswoman said the rescue operation would not be resumed, adding: “There was a very intensive search and there aren’t any plans to restart this morning, unless there is any further information.

“The helicopter was at the scene very quickly and if there had been anything on the surface it would have been seen.

“The aircraft and pilot weren’t above the water – there was sheen and bits of debris.

“It is not an active search and rescue operation now.”

The family’s nightmares were confirmed when specialist MoD marine staff located the “largely intact” aircraft on the seafloor last week and managed to recover Mr Wells’s body on Sunday.

Remains of the Cherokee aircraft belonging to an Aero Club based in Lydd, Kent, were found dotted across the coastline in the wake of the accident and are being examined by experts.

A post mortem carried out yesterday failed to establish a cause of death, but investigators are not treating it as suspicious.

An inquest will be formally opened in the next few days and police said that the family of Mr Wells, from Greatstone, Kent, have been kept informed of all developments.

A spokesman for Sussex Police said: “Just after 5pm on Saturday, August 6 we received a report from a member of the public that a light aircraft had been seen to go into the sea about half a mile off Winchelsea Beach.

“Coastguard helicopters and RNLI boats searched the area, but nobody was found.

“The Cherokee aircraft comes from a local Aero Club based at Lydd Airport in Kent, and the 44-year man flying it, who is also from Kent, was the sole occupant.”

They added: “The body of a missing pilot, and his aircraft which crashed into the sea off Winchelsea Beach, have been recovered.

“The aircraft was largely intact and the body of the pilot, Simon Wells, 44, of Dunes Road, Greatstone, Kent, was found inside.

“A complex operation was needed, with the assistance of specialist MoD marine staff, to recover it safely, and this was done on Sunday.

“The aircraft was taken to the shore at Newhaven and is now the responsibility of the Air Accident Investigation Branch who are investigating the cause of the crash.”

Witnesses reported seeing the light aircraft “bouncing” out of control across the waves before it flipped over and sank beneath the water.

One witness said: “I saw what I thought was a speedboat whizzing along, and I thought, ‘God that’s going fast’.

“Then it just went up in the air, flipped over and went down and floated on the surface for quite a while – maybe half a minute.

“Then it just disappeared and you couldn’t see it anymore. The police said that somebody reported they were having trouble with the engine.”

Another added: “We saw we thought it was a boat at first, going along the water. Suddenly it hit the water and bounced a couple of times and flipped over. And it just sunk - its tail went up in the air, and it sunk. It was a plane.”

This comes weeks after a 19-year-old tourist died after getting into difficulty in the waters off Camber Sands, down the coast from Rye.

Mr. Wells' body was taken ashore at Rye. The post mortem examination was carried out at the Conquest Hospital in Hastings.

Read more here:  https://www.thesun.co.uk

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