Footage from a shocked bystander shows the moment two men swam to safety after their plane crashed into the sea in West Sussex.
The incident is reported to have happened in the sea by the Widewater beach huts in Lancing.
Emergency services were alerted at 3.50pm yesterday and swiftly arrived at the scene.
Donna Milton, 55, from West Way, Lancing, captured the footage.
She said she was ‘a bit shaken’ by the incident, but added it could have been a lot worse.
‘I saw it come down; it was nose down in the water and was fairly big compared to the little ones you normally see.
‘I was looking for the passenger and the pilot. They both got out. It looked to me like they were trying to lift [the plane] up and try to drag it out.
‘It wasn’t that far out, then they gave up and swam out of the water.
‘We all watched the plane slowly sinking nose first.’
Donna said she spoke to them and asked if they were okay. She said the pilot was a young man.
‘I told him he had done really well to get it where he did. It could’ve been a lot worse.
‘He told me the engine cut out, he had just taken off but the engine cut out and he had to bring it back down.’
At this point, paramedics took them to an ambulance.
According to Donna, who moved to Lancing from London at the weekend, the emergency services arrived in five minutes and the coastguard helicopter was here within less than ten minutes.
Sussex Police said two people escaped from the aircraft, understood to be a Piper.
They swam ashore after the plane came down quite close to the beach and are thought to be uninjured at this time.
Eyewitness Patricia Hand was painting her beach hut when the plane came down ‘in front of her eyes’.
She said: ‘My son has a plane, so I just hoped it wasn’t him’.
According to her, she saw the two people escape from the plane and helped them ashore, and offered them a cigarette.
She then watched the plane sink under the waves. It was later recovered from the sea.