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Charity Rowers Amazed Pilot Survived

 

Updated : Aug 13, 2009

Charity rowers who videoed a dramatic crash landing in the Irish Sea tonight spoke of their amazement at seeing the pilot clamber from the wreckage.

Owner John O’Shaughnessy was flying the two-seater home to Ireland after having work done on it in Wales when he ran into trouble.

He narrowly avoided disaster in a treacherous stretch of water a few miles off the Wexford coast after performing a so-called belly land.

The dramatic touchdown and Coast Guard rescue, near Tuskar Rock, was captured on video by fundraising ocean rowers on the British Orchid less than two miles away.

Mr O’Shaughnessy said he could not discuss the incident when contacted.

Oliver Dudley, part of the GBRow team, explained how they saw Mr O’Shaughnessy make a controlled landing in relatively flat sea and clamber from the cockpit onto the wing.

Their boat was caught in a fast moving rip-tide as they tried to reach him.

“We got pushed away from him. We thought ’we haven’t got a hope in hell of catching him’ but then the Coast Guard arrived,” Mr Dudley, 33, said.

“The main thing was trying to put his (Mr O’Shaughnessy’s) mind at ease that we’d seen him.

“We were expecting to see a dead person but to find someone alive after that was extraordinary.”

Mr O’Shaughnessy, believed to be in his 50s, was the only person on board the aircraft en route from Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire to an airfield run by the Society of Amateur Aircraft Constructors (SAAC), near Taghmon village in Co Wexford.

Dave Ryan, SAAC treasurer, said he did not know Mr O’Shaugnessy but said it was common for light aircraft to fly in from the UK.

It is understood the single propeller plane had been hangared in Haverfordwest before Mr O’Shaughnessy bought it.

He asked for some work to be carried out after the sale and yesterday it was returned to the airport, which serves commercial and private planes, after alterations.

The plane was delivered on a lorry and Mr O’Shaughnessy and another man folded down the wings and bolted them in place before he fuelled up and took off alone.

Mr O’Shaughnessy, who was treated for shock and hypothermia and discharged within a few hours of the crash-land, was forced to ditch in the sea about 15 minutes from his destination.

Mr Dudley added: “We could see the wreckage and the pilot standing on the wing of the plane waving his arms, so we rowed like a bat out of hell towards it.

“I could see the pilot had blood on his head and he shouted that the plane was sinking.

“We were in a treacherous stretch of water and could not get close enough so we chucked him a line but the helicopter arrived and winched him up.”

 

 

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