A YOUNG pilot was minutes away from ditching his light aircraft into rough seas yesterday after losing engine power over the Channel.
Just days after Captain Chelsey Sullenberger saved the lives of 155 people when he touched down safely on the Hudson river, Mark Eddleston was readying his passengers for a crash landing on water. Thanfully, he made it to Alderney, landing safely at 11.26, four minutes after issuing a mayday call.
The call was made ten miles off Alderney by the 24-year-old from Sunderland, who was flying with two friends from Doncaster to Jersey. His Cessna 182 single-engine plane was losing 300 feet a minute. He had four minutes to land the plane before hitting the waves.
On the ground a full-scale emergency was declared. French and Channel Islands lifeboats were scrambled as was the Channel Islands Air Search aircraft. Mr Eddleston, who has more than 700 flying hours on single-engine planes, described the ordeal as the slowest ten miles of his life. ‘All I could think about was getting down – I counted down every single mile from the air,’ he said. ‘The worst place to be is over the water when something like this happens, but we made it down thanks to Alderney’s geographical position.’
• Picture: Pilot Mark Eddleston (24) stands beside the Cessna 182 aircraft which was forced to make an emergency landing in Alderney yesterday. Picture by James Varley