Round-Britain racers help to save a life

A team of ocean rowers off the Irish Coast directed rescuers to an injured light aircraft pilot who had ditched into the sea near their boat last week.

The crew of the British Gas Round Great Britain record attempt boat, ‘British Orchid’, found themselves faced with a real life rescue situation on 11 August when a light aircraft crash landed in the Irish Sea close to the boat.

The 4-man crew of ‘British Orchid’ who set out from Dover on 1 August were passing close to the Southern Irish coast, near the Tuskar Rock lighthouse, when the two-seater single engine plane, with just the pilot onboard, was forced to land on the water at around 16:45 hours.

After witnessing the plane ditching into the water the crew of the British Gas sponsored boat put out a Mayday call over their marine VHF radio to alert the Coastguard of the emergency.

Seeing the pilot alive and waving as he balanced on the wings of the sinking aircraft the ‘British Orchid’ crew headed straight over to offer assistance, but when they reached the stricken plane, they could see the pilot was injured but were unable to get too close due to the rough sea conditions at the time.

Thanks to the quick actions of the ‘British Orchid’ crew the Coastguard helicopter was on the scene within minutes and were able to winch the pilot to safety. Shortly afterwards the Rosslare Lifeboat arrived and towed the stricken plane into Rosslare, where investigators will assess the ditched plane in order to determine the cause of the crash landing.

As a result of these events the British Gas Round Great Britain record attempt is now in doubt as the crew understandably shaken by the events of the day decide whether or not to abandon their record attempt and head for a port in Ireland.