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OAP feared dead after Channel plane crash

Investigations are under way after a light aircraft crashed at sea, leaving a pensioner feared dead.

Rescuers yesterday called off the search for Ian Dickinson, 79, who was piloting the single-engine aircraft.

The plane went into the English Channel 25 miles off the coast of Guernsey on Saturday afternoon.

Mr Dickinson's wife, Anne-Marie, 78, was rescued from a liferaft by a Russian merchant vessel and flown to hospital by helicopter.

French authorities, who were leading rescue efforts, called off the search at midday yesterday.

Two French investigations are being carried out, while the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) is also looking into the cause of the incident.

Mrs Dickinson was discharged from hospital last night but instead of returning to the couple's home in Alderney she was being looked after by relatives.

Inspector John Davis, of Guernsey Police, said she had not been questioned yet about what happened before the plane, which had left the UK's south coast, went down.

He said: "Mrs Dickinson has been released into the care of her relatives and is apparently bearing up very well despite her ordeal."

News of the couple's involvement in the crash was broken to friends at St Anne's Church by the Rev Stephen Masters.

Alderney's political leader John Beaman said Mrs Dickinson was well liked and a popular figure because of her work with the horticultural society.

"It is very very sad news, they are such a nice couple," he said.

"I do know Anne-Marie quite well and the sympathy of all the states members goes to her, all best wishes go to her.

"I think she's being cared for in England.

"She is very young at heart and sprightly though I didn't know Ian particularly well.

"Anne-Marie was key in making our flower festival 'Bloomin' Alderney' successful.

"Up until last year Anne-Marie was Mrs Fix-It, she got people involved and chased memberships up, she was very important.

"We heard on the radio that it was somebody local involved in the crash then the vicar announced it and named them.

"It was a sombre occasion anyway because of Remembrance Sunday, but most people were shocked."

A spokeswoman for the AAIB said: "We are investigating the accident but it entirely depends on the circumstances the investigators find with the accident.

"Every investigation is different and there is no standard time.

"The investigators will compile a report and that is when details come out but we are talking months rather than days."

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