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The Royal National Lifeboat Institution - Saves Lives at Sea

RAF Attempts to airlift wreckage ashore


The RAF attempted to airlift the wreckage of a Shorts 360 aircraft from the Forth on Saturday, with little success.

Kinghorn lifeboat was in attendance as the RAF Chinook attempted to pull the main fuselage of the aircraft out of the forth. The tail section was lifted ashore without trouble, but after two attempts to lift the fuselage - now firmly embedded in the sand - the RAF had to admit defeat.

Kinghorn Lifeboat, along with Anstruther and South Queensferry lifeboats and numerous other emergency services were called to the scene late in the afternoon on Tuesday 27th February when the Shorts 360 plane, on a mail run from Edinburgh to Belfast, ditched in the sea after suffering dual engine failure. The pilot and copilot on board both died in the crash, and the family of the pilot were on scene to witness the attempt to retrieve the plane.

"The wreckage needs to be taken to Farnborough for investigation," said a police spokesman on Saturday as the lifeboat crew watched the event unfold. "They have the two black boxes for investigation, now they need the aircraft itself. We still don't know what happened."

The lifeboat crew on Saturday - Helmsman Mike McErlane and crewmembers Darren Maddison and Scott McIlravie - were asked to attend in order to help enforce a 200m exclusion zone around the wreckage as the Chinook attempted the lift, and to help provide safety cover. The Lothian and Borders Police RIB "Sierra Oscar Ten" was also on scene.

Further attempts to recover the fuselage will be made at a later date.