England

Rye plane crash: Pilot's body and aircraft recovered

Family handout picture of Simon Wells Image copyright Sussex Police
Image caption Mr Wells' family issued a photo of him after the crash

The body of a pilot who went missing after his light aircraft crashed into the sea off the south coast has been found, police have said.

Simon Wells, 44, from Kent, was the sole occupant of the Cherokee plane when it came down about half a mile off Winchelsea, East Sussex, on 6 August.

Sussex Police said the aircraft, which was largely intact, had been found on the sea floor.

Mr Wells's body was found inside, the force said.

Police said the aircraft was found a week ago but a complex operation was needed, with the assistance of specialist Ministry of Defence marine staff, to recover it safely.

Image caption The plane came down half a mile off Winchelsea

The force said the plane was brought out of the water on Sunday and the body of Mr Wells, who lived in Dunes Road, Greatstone, near Lydd, was taken ashore at Rye.

A post-mortem examination was carried out on Wednesday, but the cause of death has not been established.

Further tests will be carried out, but the death is not being treated as suspicious, police said.

A spokesman for the force said the pilot's family had been kept informed of all developments.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has been leading the investigation.

A spokesman said: "A team of AAIB investigators was deployed to the accident site to start an investigation.

"The wreckage has been recovered to our HQ at Farnborough for more detailed examination and we will publish a report on our findings when our investigation is complete.

"If any safety issues are identified, we may issue safety recommendations intended to prevent similar accidents in the future."

Image caption Air and sea searches took place immediately after the crash
Image caption Lifeboats and coastguard helicopters were sent out

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