Missing pilot swims ashore

Ten hours after his light plane went down in a storm two miles off Preveza in western Greece, prompting a huge air and sea search, the pilot swam ashore at dawn yesterday and stumbled into a village bakery, requesting a glass of water. Dimosthenis Dimitropoulos, 46, was on a solo training flight from Athens to the Ionian island of Corfu when his single-engined Cessna ran into bad weather on Sunday evening. The aircraft lost height, falling from 1,500 to about 200 feet. Then the engine stalled, Dimitropoulos told reporters yesterday. He said he radioed Aktion airport control tower to inform them that he was forced to ditch the plane. An army C-130, an all-weather Super Puma helicopter, five coast guard vessels and several fishing boats began to search for him. It was very difficult for them to find me because of the weather conditions, but the flares from the aircraft gave me courage, Dimitropoulos said. When he realized that he would not be spotted, he began to swim for shore, buoyed up by his life vest. He had suffered only a slight injury to his chin and was back home yesterday afternoon. He tried several times to postpone his extradition, Stathopoulos said. When all his lawyers’ efforts failed and it was certain that his extradition was a matter of days, he said he was coming back of his own free will.

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