At 16:53 this evening a concerned member of the public on the East coast of Herm contacted Guernsey Coastguard stating that an aircraft trailing smoke was seen to lose altitude, however it was not seen to crash and no accurate distance or positions could be given, only that it had possibly crashed somewhere between Sark and the adjacent coast of France.
The St Peter Port all weather lifeboat, ‘Spirit of Guernsey’ and the Channel Islands Airsearch aircraft, ‘Airsearch 1’ were both launched at 17:20 in order to investigate the sighting further.
The St Peter Port Lifeboat arrived on scene at 17:55 with Airsearch 1 arriving at 18:17 at which time an extensive search was conducted in the near perfect conditions of smooth seas and visibility in excess of 10 nautical miles.
Sark and Herm constables mobilised manpower to conduct visual searches from the shore and also several small vessels from Sark put to sea to assist in the search.
Enquiries were made with Air Traffic Control authorities in Guernsey, Jersey, France and the United Kingdom, all of which investigated and found no overdue aircraft or any acting erratically on recorded radar displays. No distress calls or beacon alerts were received at any time during the incident.
At 20:00 with no sightings of any objects or fuel slicks on the water, and no further information from air traffic sources the decision was taken to cease the search.
Airsearch 1 was back on station at 20:15 with the St Peter Port Lifeboat being back on station at 20:52.
Until any further information is available this incident is being treated as a call with good intent and Guernsey Coastguard are grateful to the informant who showed the presence of mind to call in an event that looked out of place.