Plane pilot ‘still missing’ along with wreckage

Emergency service wait at the end of Blackpool Airport runway after contact was lost with the plane piloted by Ian Stirling
Emergency service wait at the end of Blackpool Airport runway after contact was lost with the plane piloted by Ian Stirling
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It could be months before the investigation into a plane that went missing off the coast of Blackpool is known.

Pilot Ian Stirling has still not been found after his plane lost contact with air traffic control on December 3.

It is feared the single engine Rockwell Commander came down three miles from shore in stormy conditions.

An investigation is now under way to determine exactly what happened that morning but The Gazette understands neither Mr Sterling’s body nor the bulk of the wreckage have been found.

The search for the 73-year-old, who was flying from the Isle of Man, where he lived, to Blackpool, has since been called off .

The Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB), which is looking into the incident, said it is ‘likely to be several months’ before the inquiry concludes.

A spokesman said: “The AAIB is undertaking an investigation. The process is under way and when all the information has been collated, a report will be published.”

He declined to provide any update on the investigation, which is now in its second week.

Mr Stirling, described by his family as an ‘experienced pilot’, was the only person on board the aircraft when it disappeared.

Debris found washed up on the beach the following day is thought to belong to the plane.

Contact was lost shortly after 9am on December 3, when the plane was around three miles from land, police said.

Several lifeboats and two helicopters took part in the ensuing search, which covered 45 square nautical miles.

Mr Stirling’s family said he had flown the route ‘many times’.