A MAJOR rescue operation was launched after reports that a plane had crashed into the sea.

Solent Coastguard sprung into action following a call that a light aircraft had come down in the sea.

A helicopter scoured the coastline while rescue teams questioned the public along the shoreline at Ventnor on the Isle of Wight last night where the plane was thought to have gone down.

A man had reported that a Cesna 150 or Cesna 172 had flown low over his house and he heard a noise and thought it had gone into the sea so called 999 at around 4.15pm yesterday.

This sparked a three-hour search for the supposed missing plane involving the Solent Coastguard and the National Rescue Centre in RAF Kinloss in Scotland.

Teams interviewed members of the public on the shoreline who had also seen the low-flying aircraft, put out a broadcast to all ships for sightings of the aircraft and contacted local air traffic control including at Southampton and Bournemouth to see if they were aware of any incident.

The Coastguard helicopter searched the water for possible wreckage and oil, but found nothing.

Searchers finally concluded that it had been a false alarm.