Missing pilot search is hampered by the weather

Photo Neil Cross'Shoreline search has begun for the missing plane that went missng from a flight from Isle of Man to Blackpool.
Photo Neil Cross'Shoreline search has begun for the missing plane that went missng from a flight from Isle of Man to Blackpool.
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BAD weather is hampering the search for the pilot of a light aircraft which went missing off the coast of Blackpool.

Coastguard senior coastal officer Adam Bradbury said this morning: “At the moment in time we’re waiting for a lull in the weather.

“The weather has closed in and it’s not safe for anything to go out to sea.

“The Coastguard as been out this morning and checked on the tide line.

“We are urging the public not to touch anything they find and to report it to the Coastguard.

“We’re hoping on Sunday there’s going to be a lull in the weather and sonar and other equipment can be used to locate the crash.”

The pilot was named yesterday as businessman Ian Stirling, 73, of Douglas on the Isle of Man.

He was the pilot of a single engine Rockwell Commander flying from the Isle of Man to Blackpool Airport and was the only person on board.

Mr Stirling, who is understood to have split his time between the Isle of Man and Scotland, is currently missing.

A spokesman for Mr Stirling’s family said: “Ian was an experienced pilot who had flown this route many times. We are obviously in shock at what has happened and hoping against hope that he may be found alive.

“We’d like to thank everyone for their love and support at this difficult time and we would ask to be left alone to come to terms with what has happened.”

Contact was lost with the aircraft at shortly after 9am on Thursday, when the plane was about three miles off the Blackpool Coast over the Irish Sea.

An investigation by the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) is now under way.