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Wingwalker pilot ‘deserves medal’ after Bournemouth harbour crash rescue

Wingwalker pilot ‘deserves medal’ after Bournemouth harbour crash rescue
Dorset Police launch investigation after two people injured in shock crash at air show

The pilot of a plane which crashed into a harbour during a wing-walking display at an air show in Bournemouth deserves a medal, according to one of the witnesses who helped rescue him.

Libby Chambers, her partner Alan Badenhorst, and their three children had been watching the show at Bournemouth Air Festival from a dinghy when they witnessed the two-seat biplane crash down in Poole Harbour, near Sandbanks, on Saturday afternoon.

Ms Chambers said the family then rushed to rescue the pilot and wingwalker and pulled them into their dinghy.

“The pilot was straight out and I remember he pulled the wingwalker out and she was in quite a state really – she was petrified and couldn’t stop screaming,” she told the Bournemouth Echo.

“The pilot was incredible, he deserves a medal – I have no idea how he missed the rocks, the marker and the boats – he was just out of this world.”

Jason Hall, a 40-year-old who was on a yacht close to where the plane landed, said that the pilot was a “hero” and it was “a miracle no one was killed”.

“You could see he was hugging the coastline looking for somewhere to ditch the plane safely,” Mr Hall said.

“There must have been 100 boats tightly packed together and he dropped it into a space the size of a tennis court.”

Dorset Police has said that two crew members suffered minor injuries, which were treated by paramedics, from the crash and an investigation is underway over the incident.

Meanwhile, air festival director Jon Weaver told BBC Radio Solent that he had been in indirect contact with the pilot and wingwalker involved, adding that they were “both fine” and had been discharged from hospital.

The Bournemouth Echo also reported on Sunday morning that divers were at the scene of the incident as part of efforts to retrieve the plane.

On Saturday, the organisers of the festival, which attracts thousands of people each year, said that the flying schedule had been suspended for the rest of the day but was going ahead as planned on Sunday.

“Following the incident earlier today, the site of the crash has been secured and will remain so overnight,” the festival said in a statement.

“Members of the public are requested to avoid the area. The aircraft will be recovered in due course, subject to tides and harbour traffic.”

After thanking emergency services who responded to the crash, the organisers added: “It is a huge relief for all those involved in the air festival that the incident has resulted in the display crew being removed from the water safe and well.”

Additional reporting by agencies