SR-22 Crash off Jersey

Hi, have you guys heard about an SR22 that ditched in the English Channel about 15 nm north of Cherbourg, France on Sunday. A pilot from Jersey, Channel Isles GB died. No mayday. Tragic loss of a 25 year old newly qualified.

Reports below written by me as I am journalist at na ewspaper in Jersey. Investigtations started.

If you any observations, I would be pleased to hear them.


MISSING pilot Alexander de Gruchy had learned to fly only recently before his light aircraft crashed on Sunday.

He was returning from London after watching England play Australia at Twickenham in the rugby union clash.

The 25-year-old started flying lessons this year and obtained his private pilot’s licence in August. The former Victoria College student was the main funeral director of the Five Oaks-based family owned business De Gruchy’s Funeral Directors.

His Cirrus SR-22 aircraft crashed into the sea 14 miles north of Cherbourg and yesterday plane debris was recovered by French rescue vessels.

Today investigators will start work to establish the cause of the crash.

His father David said today: ‘Alexander touched the lives of so many who knew him. Whenever he went out, people would come up to him to thank him for being so understanding in their time of grief.’

Alex was a member of the Jersey Aero Club who started flying in March this year and qualified in August.

His father said that the family bought the aircraft — reg N224AG — brand-new for Alex in June and that he had nearly 130 hours of flying experience under his belt.

‘Flying was his release as he could get away from everything when he was in the air. The plane was fantastic as he had space for himself,’ said Mr de Gruchy. Despite only having had the plane for five months, Alex, his father said, had given up his time to help charities by flying disadvantaged youngsters around the Island, the last time being the Helping Hands event at the Jersey Aero Club in October.

Alex lived with his parents David and Kathy at their Noirmont home and had a sister named Cirsty.

‘He contributed so much to society and to individuals. He worked so hard. We have to keep the business running as we need to carry on for the sake of the funeral directors and other staff,’ he said.

The prosecutor of the court of justice of Cherbourg, Michel Garrandaux, has been appointed to lead the inquiry into the crash.

At a press conference last night he confirmed the identity of the pilot. He also said that there was no mayday call from the aircraft and that Mr de Gruchy did not tell Jersey Air Traffic Control that he had any difficulties.

M Garrandaux said that not all of the plane wreckage had been found by the Marine Nationale.

However, he told journalists: ‘This morning a team has discovered parts of the Sirrus SR-22 and of course organic matter.’

He added that the objective of the investigation would be to confirm the identity of the victim and determine the circumstances of the crash.

Alex left Biggin Hill airfield near London ten minutes before darkness fell on Sunday, and it was dark when the aircraft went missing at about 5.15 pm.

Yesterday and today the flags at the missing man’s former school, Victoria College, were at half-mast in tribute to him.

Headmaster Bob Cook said: ‘Alex was a very charismatic young man who had fabulous personal skills with people.’

He was head of Dunlop House and was in the Navy section of the College’s Combined Cadet Force.

‘He had a fabulous singing voice, too. I recall him singing “Bridge Over Troubled Water” not long after I started, and it was a showstopper,’ he said

Mr Cook said that Alex had been ‘very talented’, as could be seen from his business career, and added: ‘He is a huge loss.’


A JERSEYMAN has been reported missing after the light aircraft he was flying disapp-eared from radar screens over the sea north of Cherbourg yesterday evening.

It is understood that the pilot, who has not yet been officially named, was heading back to the Island when the fixed wing single-engine aircraft was reported missing at about 5.15 pm.

The States police said today that the aircraft ditched near Cherbourg in French territorial waters.

The missing man is understood to have acquired his pilot’s licence this year. The aircraft, said to be a Cirrus SR-22, was reported to have disappeared by Jersey Air Traffic Control at a position about 14 nautical miles north of the French port.

Flying alone

A French air and sea rescue operation was immediately mounted and resumed this morning in a bid to locate the pilot, who was said to have been flying alone.

The French coast guard station CROSS at Jobourg in Normandy received a message from Jersey air traffic controllers at 6.23 pm French time yesterday saying that contact with the aircraft had been lost. However, it is understood that there was no mayday from the aircraft. It is known that the pilot received permission from air traffic in the Island to enter the Jersey-controlled airspace near Cherbourg minutes before the aircraft disappeared from screens.

The plane had taken off from Biggin Hill aerodrome near London.

According to the French Maritime Prefect, a French helicopter based at Cherbourg and one based in the UK were conducting searches today.

In addition, last night’s search also involved the Channel Islands Air Search aircraft Lions Pride, a French coastguard vessel and a cross-Channel passenger vessel which managed to change course to search the area in which the plane went down. Search efforts were hampered last night by reduced visibility from low cloud and occasional drizzle, but infrared search cameras were used.

Nothing found

The search aircraft returned to Guernsey to refuel at about 9.40 pm and rejoined the search before it stood down at 1.15 am today as nothing had been spotted.

Jersey Airport spokesman Alan Donald said that the search resumed at 7.45 am today and as of late morning nothing had been found.

A French Navy helicopter was scrambled at 9 am to join the other two helicopters already in the area.

This thread has been discussing the accident for the past couple of days.


Sounds like JFK Jr all over again


Your reporting of this event is quite good and resists sensationalizing and uninformed public speculation.

That he was a new pilot and took off after dark across open water in poor and deteriorating weather conditions makes for a textbook loss of control accident though. By no means conclusive, but certainly worth other pilots considering.

Sounds like a very very decent young man though.