The Isle of Wight pilot rescued from the Solent after his light aircraft crashed and sank off Southsea said: ‘I am lucky to be alive.’
Former flying instructor Roger Haldenby, 33, was plucked from the chilling waters about 20 minutes after the plane – a Cessna – sank nose-down to the seabed.
Recovering at the Royal Naval Hospital at Haslar, Gosport, from the shock and exposure after his ordeal, Mr Haldenby, of Buckland Gardens, Ryde, added: ‘Another five or six minutes and it could have been a different story.
‘I spent nearly half-an-hour in the water. My hands were numb and I could not feel my legs below the knees.
‘I was worried that no one had seen me come down, and I am lucky to be alive. The helicopter crew from Lee-on-Solent did a fantastic job and I am deeply grateful.’
Mr Haldenby was flying the Cessna from Sandown to Goodwood for its owner for an annual check –he said – when it developed engine trouble after half-a-mile off Southsea just after 1PM.
The engine ran roughly for a few seconds, then suddenly quit.