RNLI Calshot on scene at plane crash in the Solent

Lifeboats News Release

Beach and water activity came to a halt this weekend along the Calshot shoreline as a small plane came down in the sea close to the RNLI station. Lifeboat crew spent the rest of the afternoon and evening supporting a multi-agency response in managing the crash site both afloat and ashore.

RNLI/Justyn Leonard

RNLI Calshot D-Class lifeboat securing the crash site

At 2.50pm on Sunday 31 May 2020, RNLI Calshot's volunteer crew was tasked by HM Solent Coastguard to assist in events following a flurry of Mayday calls reporting that a light aircraft had crashed into the sea off Calshot Spit, where the Solent and Southampton Water meet.

Conditions gave a gusty 25-30 knots of Easterly wind, with a slight to moderate sea state in the Solent, on a beautiful hot sunny day with excellent visibility.

Our Lifeboat Press Team of Danni Strawford-Jones & Justyn Leonard were on scene all afternoon managing national and local press who had rushed down to Calshot to get the scoop, as well as many beach goers who were enjoying a socially distanced day out.

The two casualties onboard the plane had extracted themselves very quickly after it entered the water. The force of the impact had been eased somewhat with the assistance of a cleverly designed feature know as ‘Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS), fitted to this type of plane. This means that if the engine should fail then the parachute can be deployed, slowing the aircraft down in a gradual descent.

The casualties were picked up by a passing leisure boat, then transferred to Hamble Independent Lifeboat (who were already afloat nearby) when the alarm was raised. After receiving initial medical attention, they were taken to Hamble Lifeboat station where South Central Ambulance service checked them over and declared them fit, well and unharmed.

In the meantime, both of Calshot’s lifeboats had been tasked by HM Solent Coastguard to help contain any debris, and to manage spectators both afloat and ashore, as it was a sunny day with a Solent full of leisure boats. Unfortunately, due to the shallow waters in which the semi-submerged aircraft had now been blown, with the parachute acting as a sail, on arrival the Atlantic 85 B-Class lifeboat Max Walls was unable to reach the site; however the D-Class lifeboat Willett was the perfect tool for the job arriving right behind.

On arrival at the shore, the crew - along with Lymington Coastguard - took on the task of detaching and wrapping up the still fully-inflated parachute. After this the area was cordoned off and the crew made safe the aircraft. The wonderful thing about our volunteer crew is that we all bring our different skill sets to the party; our helm, Tony Carrier, is also a commercial pilot, and was on the shout. Using his extensive specialist experience and knowledge, he was able to secure the plane, isolate the batteries, shut off the fuel, and check the aircraft over for any punctures or leaks. Colin Tabor, Station Officer for HM Coastguard Lymington was on scene throughout and said, ‘Tony was absolutely instrumental to the whole rescue.’

A team of lifeboat crew, coastguard, police units and fire rescue teams helped to bring a six-hour rescue to a safe close when the plane was finally removed from the beach and transported away. Special thanks must go to the unsung Calshot RNLI Shore Crew who, as ever, waited back at base for the lifeboat to return and be turned around, cleaned down in line with enhanced coronavirus protocols and made ready for service again.

RNLI Media Contacts:

Calshot Lifeboat Station volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer Danni Strawford-Jones (07721) 694135 [email protected]

Calshot Lifeboat Station volunteer Deputy Lifeboat Press Officer Justyn Leonard (07540) 920678 [email protected]

Regional Media Officer, South East and London, Paul Dunt (07785) 296252 [email protected]

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.