• France's news in English

French pilot found in Spain days after crash

Ben McPartland · 9 May 2014, 10:48

Published: 09 May 2014 10:48 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Retired Bernard Mengin, aged in his 60s, set off in his private monoplane from an airfield in the Aude department of south west France on Monday.

But concerns were soon raised after he disappeared off the map in his monoplane. A witness appeal was immediately launched and a huge search effort was set up to try to find him.

Seven French and Spanish helicopters were dispatched at various times to look for Mengin but as the hours and days went by, hopes began to fade that he would be found safe and well.

But then he got lucky, when a hiker spotted him on Thursday lying on a path among the trees on the slopes of the Spanish Pyrenees.

Mengin had ejected the plane in his parachute after admitting he made a mistake while flying. Contrary to earlier reports the pilot did not spend three days hanging from a tree in his parachute, but managed to crawl to a nearby hiking trial, where he hoped someone would pass by.

"I spent three days without being able to move much. I could not walk. During three days, I lived just lying on the ground, " he told Europe1 radio

According to Spanish rescuers the pilot hardly had the strength to talk and had wounds to his chest.

Mengin was airlifted to hospital where his condition was initially described as serious but not life threatening.

But his relieved wife, who rushed to the hospital in the Spanish town of Lérida later said: “He’s fine, that’s the main thing”.

It is not clear why Mengin was forced to eject from his aircraft.

Story continues below…

The head of the French rescue service told Europe1 radio how lucky the pilot had been.

“He was a needle in a haystack. The search area was incredibly vast. We had to cover half the Pyrenees so our chances were slim,” said David Segheto.

“But this is the reward for not giving up and for not losing hope too quickly,” he added.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
French cheer police, reviving Charlie spirit
French police officers on Saturday demonstrated for the fifth night in a row to protest mounting attacks on officers. Photo: Thomas Samson / AFP

Angry French police have taken to the streets for five nights in a row -- and Parisians have started to cheer them on, reviving scenes last seen following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in 2015.

Scarlett Johansson turns popcorn girl in Paris
US actress Scarlett Johansson greets customers at the Yummy Pop gourmet popcorn shop in the Marais district of Paris. Photo: Benjamin Cremel / AFP

Hollywood superstar Scarlett Johansson swapped the red carpet for a turn behind the counter at her new popcorn shop in Paris on Saturday.

US couple donates huge art collection to Paris
Marlene (centre) and Spencer (right) are donating their collection ‘for the benefit of art lovers’. Photo: Thomas Samson / AFP

A Texan couple who discovered their love for art during a trip to Paris in the 1970s are to donate the multi-million dollar collection they have amassed since to the French capital.

France to clear 'Jungle' migrant camp Monday
Migrants will be bussed from the camp to some 300 temporary accommodation centres around France. Photo: Denis Charlet/ AFP

The "Jungle" migrant camp on France's northern coast will be cleared of its residents on Monday before being demolished, authorities said Friday.

How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available