Missing pilot's plane found off Blackpool coastline

Missing pilot's plane found off Blackpool coastline

A plane that went missing off the coast of Blackpool has been found at the bottom of the Irish sea.

The plane and its pilot, 73-year-old Ian Stirling, lost contact with air traffic control and vanished at around 9am on 3 December 2015.

It is believed it crashed after the plane stalled at a low height.

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A major search and rescue was launched after the Rockwell Commander light aircraft disappeared, with 45 nautical miles being scoured by lifeboats and helicopters. The wreckage was not immediately found.

A report released by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) this week said the plane was later found by the Ministry of Defense.

It was found upside down and intact, but full of sand. The landing gear was down.

Efforts to recover the plane failed, and it was not possible to access the cabin, where Mr Stirling's body may remain.

The report said that Mr Stirling held a private pilot's licence and had more than 200 flying hours, but was not qualified for instrument-flying.

According to the Blackpool Gazette, the report said: "The aircraft was operating in weather conditions that would have been challenging for the pilot, who held no instrument flying qualification.

"The available evidence suggests the aircraft may have stalled at a height from which recovery was not possible."

It is believed businessman Mr Stirling had been flying over to Blackpool from the Isle of Man.

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