VIDEO AND PHOTOS: Teen captures plane's emergency Sidmouth stop on camera
PUBLISHED: 12:50 11 May 2018 | UPDATED: 13:01 11 May 2018
A teen out taking photos of Sidmouth in the sun was amazed when a plane making an emergency landing on Jacob's Ladder beach flew into his focus. Michael Penston was enjoying the fine weather while visiting his gran in the town on Saturday when he noticed the small aircraft flying low and the sound of its engine struggling.
The 15-year-old was able to video the plane coming in to land and also witnessed beachgoers run over to help and push the aircraft up the beach and away from the sea.
Michael, of Payhembury, told the Herald: “We were visiting Sidmouth to see my grandmother but, seeing as the weather was so nice, I walked along the beach to take some photos. I had walked up to Jacob’s ladder where I heard a fairly noisy aeroplane engine. I looked towards Peak Hill and the plane was flying quite low, as if it was having engine problems and then the engine cut altogether. The plane had to make the emergency landing on the beach.
“It was actually a really gentle and quiet landing so, at first, I was not very surprised. The aeroplane, however, had come to a halt very quickly but was perfectly intact. It was not very frightening and I was watching from quite a distance and could see that nobody was injured. At first, it did not occur to me that it was an emergency but decided to film the landing anyway as I had my camera in hand.
“After it had stopped, people were running over to help. I walked along the beach to have a closer look and, as I approached, I saw a group of people from the beach pushing the plane up the beach (towards the cliff) to get it away from the sea.
“I believe that there was an engine fault that lead the plane to have to make the landing. Some 33 minutes later the police and, soon after, the coastguard arrived, too.”
In an exclusive interview with the Sidmouth Herald, the pilot and passenger of the aircraft have recalled the moment its engine cut out while flying over Sidmouth.
Zac Rockey and Trudi Spiller were enjoying views of the Jurassic Coast from 12,000ft on Saturday when they noticed there was a serious problem.
Trudi has praised pilot Zac, 45, for coolly landing the 1930s plane on the shingle - carefully avoiding beachgoers.
A Beer Costguard spokesman said on Saturday: “Rescue officers arrived on scene and quickly established that no persons on the beach were injured and the two occupants of the aircraft where uninjured.
“The pilot made the emergency landing after the engine developed a fault. He showed great skill in landing on an area of the beach which was less populated than the area nearer to Jacob’s Ladder.
“The police and coastguard officers discussed the options for the removal of the aircraft from the beach with the pilot and mechanics who had arrived on scene.
“It was decided that, with the help of the tractor from Sidmouth Lifeboat, shore crew, coastguards and mechanics, the plane would be towed to the bottom of the driveway where it would be dismantled and then transported by road back to the airfield.
“Coastguards cleared the driveway and beach and ensured a safe passage across the beach.
“Once the aircraft had reached the bottom of the driveway and we were no longer required we returned to station.
“I think I can say nobody in the team had dealt with a plane landing on the beach before.”
The plane was later dismantled by engineers, removed from the beach, and taken to Branscombe Airfield.