AN INVESTIGATION has begun into the disappearance of a pilot who crashed in the English Channel after taking off at a Hampshire airfield.

Sasha Schornstien, a 36-year-old German national from London, set off from Blackbushe Airport, near Hartley Wintney, at 10.48am on Sunday morning.

His destination was Le Touquet airport, near Boulogne-sur-Mer, but at 3.30pm French search and rescue teams found the wreckage of his Cirrus SR22 plane in the English Channel.

His body was not found and the search at sea was abandoned on Monday.

Hampshire Constabulary is now conducting a missing person inquiry, working with international police to locate Mr Schornstein.

Sergeant Andy Thomas said: “I’m keeping an open mind as to what happened to Mr Schornstein. We’re releasing a picture of him in case he has been spotted since, or if anyone else has important information that can assist us.

“We’re also liaising with the Air Accident Investigation Branch, which has been looking into what caused the aircraft to come down, and a police family liaison officer is in contact with Mr Schornstein’s wife to keep her updated.”

Anyone with information on Mr Schornstein can contact Hampshire Constabulary on 101.