Police name pilot missing after light aircraft crashed into sea


A pilot whose light aircraft crashed into the sea has been named as Simon Wells.

The 44-year-old's plane plummeted into the water around half a mile off Rye Harbour in East Sussex on Saturday.

The coastguard said on Sunday that rescue efforts will not be renewed after a major search when the plane initially went down.

Mr Wells, from Greatstone in Kent, has not been found.

A photograph of him standing by a Lightning aircraft at an air display has been released on behalf of his family by his brother, Anthony Wells.

His plane is thought to have only had one person on board when it crashed off Winchelsea Beach just after 5pm.

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

On Sunday a spokeswoman said the rescue operation would not be resumed, saying: "There was a very intensive search yesterday 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."

Wreckage from the plane was washed ashore later that day and police are appealing for any witnesses to the incident to come forward.

A Sussex Police spokesman said: "Initial reports suggest that the aircraft comes from a local aero club and that the man flying it was the sole occupant.

"Some wreckage which is believed to be from an aircraft has been found washed ashore at Winchelsea Beach."

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch has been informed and will be carrying out an investigation.

Anyone who saw what happened is asked to contact Sussex Police on 101 quoting reference 1172 of 06/08.