Suffolk/UK: RAF crew from Wattisham joins search for crashed aircraft

An air-and-sea search - including an RAF crew from Wattisham Airfield in Suffolk - was suspended tonight by rescuers investigating a light aircraft crash in the English Channel, Coastguards said.

Fading light prompted authorities to call off attempts to find the missing pilot. A decision will be taken this morning about the next course of action.

The American-registered, single-engine plane was carrying one person on board when it came down in the middle of the Channel, about 15 miles off Dungeness in Kent.

The alarm was raised at 2.30pm after the Dover Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) was told the plane had failed to arrive at Le Touquet airport after leaving Hampshire.

A cross-Channel search and rescue operation led by UK maritime authorities was launched, involving French and British helicopters, the Dungeness RNLI lifeboat and three French vessels.

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Wreckage was later found by the French search and rescue helicopter and tonight teams worked against the clock to try to find the missing pilot before the light faded.

A Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) spokesman said the incident happened four miles inside UK waters.

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Following the suspension of the search, she said tonight: 'Further discussions will be held in the morning as to the next course of action.'

An Air Accidents Investigation Branch spokesman said: 'The AAIB have deployed a team to collect evidence and begin an initial investigation.

'The position of the aircraft will determine if the full investigation will be led by the AAIB or the French authorities.'


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