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Mon, Oct 06, 2003

C-172 Ditches Off British Coast

Three Former SAR Pilots On Board

During World War Two, Bernard Maslin. Arthur Record and Dennis Stanley (right) devoted their lives to rescuing fighter, bomber and freighter crews off the coast of England. Saturday morning, the seasoned veterans were themselves rescued when their Cessna 172 ditched off the Isle of Scilly. Maslin, 79, is still hospitalized. Record and Stanley, both 82, were treated and released. Medical officials say Maslin will "be okay."

The BBC reports all three men are members of the Fleet Air Arm Squadron (FAAS) which meets once a month to go flying. Their Cessna was one of nine which took off from Land's End for a day out in the Isles of Scilly. The three men had earlier flown to Land's End from Gloucestershire.

The flying veterans were forced to ditch when their engine cut out at about 2,000 feet, six or seven miles from the islands (right). Engine out, they glided toward a fishing boat, the Semper Allegro, whose crew pulled them from the water. All three were airlifted by Royal Navy helicopter to a hospital at the Royal Naval Air Station in Culdrose. Maslin apparently swallowed a great deal of seawater when his Cessna went into the drink. That's why he was kept for observation, hospital officials said. But a hospital spokesman said of his condition: "He had had his breakfast this morning and was very cheerful."

FAAS Squadron Leader Michael Bonham-Couzens said both Record and Stanley showed up for a dinner at the Land's End Hotel Saturday night after they were released from hospital.

"Mr. Record did not have a scratch, but Mr. Stanley had his fingers heavily bandaged. They were both in sparkling form at the dinner and we were delighted to have them back in the fold of the squadron."

The Air Accident Investigation Branch is looking into what caused the Cessna's engine to fail as it flew towards St Mary's.

FMI: www.aaib.dft.gov.uk

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