Dramatic video shows rescue mission to save two men after plane crash

Moment two men are plucked from the sea by RNLI crew after their plane crashed into water off the coast of Jersey when it lost power

  • Dramatic video has been released showing lifeboat crews rescue downed pilots
  • Ex RAF pilot Duncan Laisney and Paul Clifford ditched their plane near Jersey 
  • They spent an hour on a tiny life raft as a major rescue operation was launched 
  • Battling through choppy conditions, the RNLI managed to pull the pair to safety  

Speeding through treacherous waters, this is the dramatic moment a team of heroic lifeboat volunteers charged into action to save two men after their plane crashed into the sea. 

Three RNLI teams were scrambled last week after former RAF Tornado pilot Duncan Laisney and Paul Clifford’s Piper PA-32 Cherokee Six went down in the English Channel off the coast of Jersey. 

Now, footage of the rescue has been released showing the moment the crew managed to find the pair, as they huddled for warmth in their orange life raft. 

The video opens with one lifeboat RIB racing through the choppy seas, with water splashing up and soaking the two rescue workers. 

RNLI lifeboat volunteers are pictured speeding through choppy waters to rescue two men whose plane had crashed off the coast of Jersey on Thursday

Dramatic footage released by the RNLI shows the moment crews managed to find the two men floating on a rescue raft

Former RAF Tornado pilot Duncan Laisney and Paul Clifford (pictured left) had been floating in their dingy for an hour before they were pulled to safety

Rescue teams had been mobilised after the single-engine plane lost power and was forced to ditch into the sea.

Duncan and Paul had managed to put their life jackets on and clamber into the safety raft moments before their plane sunk under the waves. 

Both of the men were spotted by eagle-eyed RNLI volunteers, who can then be seen approaching the ‘calm’ duo as they bobbed in the Channel. 

A series of stills captures the moment the pair were then pulled out of their raft and into the safety of the RNLI craft before heading back to dry land. 

And, in another stunning moment, a dolphin was filmed jumping out of the water at the end of the operation – surrounded by three rescue craft, who had battled force seven winds and three-metre high waves to find the downed pilots.

An RNLI spokesperson said: ‘See what it was like onboard the RNLI Jersey inshore lifeboats when they launched to help the two people who had to ditch their plane in the sea off the south-east coast of Jersey.

The pair had been travelling in a Piper PA-32 Cherokee Six single-engine plane when the aircraft lost power and plummeted into the sea. Pictured is the moment an RNLI lifeboat volunteer reaches the stranded duo

An investigation has now been launched into what caused the crash of the Piper on Thursday. Pictured is a stock image

‘Make sure you don’t blink or you might miss the dolphin that made an appearance just after the casualties had boarded.

‘Their actions and use of their safety equipment greatly improved their chances of survival allowing our crews to locate them quickly in the challenging conditions.’

The drama all unfolded on Thursday when Afghanistan veteran Duncan and Paul were forced to make an emergency landing in the sea.  

The pair floated on a dingy for about an hour before the RNLI and Coastguard crews managed to find them.

Duncan and Paul were carrying an emergency beacon device which beamed their location to rescue crews. 

Once rescued, the duo were taken to St Helier cold but unhurt. 

Speaking to ITV News after being saved, a relieved Duncan said: ‘I feel delighted to be back of course. 

‘There was a great sense of relief and the RNLI did a fantastic professional job in picking us up very, very quickly.’

He said it the hour they were left stranded on the dingy at sea ‘felt like a long time’ and added he was ‘indebted’ to the RNLI team that plucked him and his pal from the water.  

Mr Clifford, added: ‘It was a little bit worrying, but we were alright. We knew that people would come and get us, we were fine.’ 

Both of the men were found with the use of a personal locator beacon which helped rescue teams to find them at sea. Pictured is the moment an RNLI team reaches the life raft

Former RAF Tornado pilot Duncan Laisney, pictured, said he was relieved to be rescued by the emergency crews

James Hope, one of the RNLI crew members involved in the rescue operation, said: ‘To actually find some people in the middle of the sea, in a life raft in the middle of the sea, is just an amazing feeling. It’s why we do what we do.’

The search mission was controlled by Ports of Jersey Marine Quality Manager, Phil Le Neveu.

Jersey Coastguard tasked all three of the island’s RNLI lifeboats, Ports of Jersey work boat ‘Rival’, Channel Island Air Search and French Helicopter ‘Dragon 50’.

In a statement, Jersey Coastguard added: ‘Thanks to the fast response by the crews of all the assets, the use of drift modelling software and the homing signal from the personal locator beacon, the life raft was located very quickly.

‘Both of the casualties were returned safe and well to St Helier on board the St Helier all weather lifeboat.

‘Jersey Coastguard would like to offer our sincere thanks to all of the crews who braved gale force conditions to assist the airmen today.

‘Your selfless actions to respond today undoubtedly saved two lives.’

An investigation is due to take place to find out what caused the plane to lose power and crash.  

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