Search for light aircraft pilot off Rye Harbour

Pett Level beach Image copyright Google
Image caption Lifeboats are searching an area between Winchelsea beach and Pett Level beach

A pilot is missing after a light aircraft crashed into the sea off the south coast.

The plane came down about half a mile off Rye Harbour, East Sussex, just after 17:00 BST.

Two coastguard helicopters and RNLI lifeboats searched the area for the pilot, who was thought to be the only person on board.

The aircraft and pilot have not been found, although some wreckage had been found washed ashore, police said.

A force spokesman said: "Initial reports suggest that the aircraft comes from a local aero club and that the man flying it was the sole occupant."

Wreckage thought to be from the aircraft was found on Winchelsea beach, he added.

An RNLI spokesman said crews had conducted searches about three-quarters of a mile offshore between Winchelsea beach and Pett Level beach.

The lifeboats were stood down when dusk fell, he added.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch has been informed.