Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

North Pilot Tells of Amazing Survival; Plane Lost All Power 10 Miles from Safety

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

North Pilot Tells of Amazing Survival; Plane Lost All Power 10 Miles from Safety

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul James Chief Reporter

A NORTH pilot last night told of his amazing survival after landing a plane that was plunging towards water 10 miles from land.

Travel firm boss Mark Eddleston kept a calm head to save himself and two friends when his engine lost power halfway across the English Channel on their way to a holiday in Jersey at 4,500ft in the air.

His hired single-engine Cessna 182 plane was falling 300ft a minute as the 24-year-old radioed emergency services for help.

Lifeboats and rescue aircraft were scrambled from the Channel Islands and helicopters put on standby as Mark tried to glide the entire 10 miles to the island of Alderney.

As the plane plunged towards the water, Mark managed to glide the plane a final few yards and put it down on the runway.

Yesterday Mark, who lives in Ashbrooke, Sunderland, told how he only flew on Monday from Sandtoft, near Doncaster, because his own plane, at Newcastle Airport, had been in for service.

He said: "We were going down for a three-day stay which was going to be nice and relaxing, and we were coasting towards Jersey.

"Then the manifold pressure dropped right off - we were coming down and we had no choice in the matter.

"We were coming down at 200-300ft a minute and I knew we were going to be in the water in 12-14 minutes.

"We had stinking head winds and were only doing 85 knots with more than 20 miles to go to Jersey.

"If Alderney wasn't there we would have been in the water, without a shadow of a doubt. It was the slowest 10 miles of my life."

Mark was first taken up in the air at the age of 10 by his father David, with whom he works at the Main Street Travel Company in Durham City.

Speaking modestly about the descent he said: "The controllers were telling us the closest runway was in France, but I was more interested in where the emergency services were. I told the guy 'I've got a feeling I'm going to be in the water '.

"My friends seemed very calm. I was just explaining the situation to them but I don't think they realised it was as serious as it was. We came over Alderney at less than 1,000ft and just made the runway. …

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