Two men escape plane crash after emergency landing on lake

Loss of oil pressure on board is thought to have led to difficulties over Lough Erne

 

Two men have escaped unscathed this evening after being forced to make an emergency landing on Lough Erne when the light aircraft they were flying got into difficulty.

The identities of the two men on board are not yet known but it’s understood they are staying in a local guesthouse. Unconfirmed reports suggested they are tourists or “leisure pilots”. It is believed the plane was hired.

The incident occurred at Upper Lough Erne, Co Fermanagh. The men had flown out of St Angelo Airport in Enniskillen before getting into difficulty.

Once the pilot realised an emergency landing was required, he began to search for an appropriate location to put the plane down. Having failed, he flew out over Lough Erne and elected to try and land the aircraft on the water.

A spokeswoman for the HM Coastguard in Belfast said they received a call from Shannon Air Traffic Control at 4.25pm informing them of a mayday call from a small Cessna aircraft.

The men had informed air traffic control they were in difficulty and said they intended to ditch the aircraft in the lake.

The coastguard immediately requested the Irish Coastguard Rescue Helicopter be dispatched and sought assistance from the Erne coastguard team and the RNLI lifeboat from Carrybridge. The emergency services were also informed.

Initially, the coastguard did not know exactly where the aircraft was going down, but received more precise coordinates following a 999 call from a member of the public who saw the aircraft go down.

It was not known exactly what caused the aircraft to get into difficulty but it’s understood the problem arose from a loss of oil pressure. What exactly caused this will be a matter for the air accident investigation team.

The pilot of the aircraft was successful in making an emergency landing on the lake and both men climbed out before swimming to shore where they were met by rescue teams.

The authorities spoke directly with the two men who were also checked by paramedics. They are satisfied both are “safe, well and uninjured”. Both of the men returned to their guesthouse.

“They were actually able to land the plane on water and they were able to land it very close to shore, at which point they got out and were able to swim to shore,” said the spokeswoman for the coastguard. “It was a very good piece of flying.”

The aircraft is still semi-submerged with just its tail protruding from the water. While it is not absolutely certain if the aircraft is still intact, the authorities believe it was in one piece as it came down.

“The lifeboat team can see the tail and the strobe lights on the tail sticking up out of the water. It is too dark to tell for sure if the plane is completely in one piece but it seemed to be intact as it came down.”