TWO men - one a former head chef at Bridport's The Vue Restaurant - say they are lucky to be alive after crashing their ultralight aircraft off the North-East coast yesterday.
The plane took off from Bridport heading for Flinders Island on the way to Newcastle when the engine failed near Waterhouse Island about 3pm.
Pilot Shayd Hector and passenger Joel Nelson, both 23 of Newcastle, used a personal safety beacon on board to notify the Australian Maritime Safety Authority that the ultralight had gone down in Banks Strait, which is about 50 nautical miles north-east of Launceston.
Vessels from nearby islands, as well as Tasmania Police vessels, the Westpac Police Rescue Helicopter and crews from Victoria assisted in the rescue.
The men were spotted floating on a raft in the water wearing life jackets and were rescued by a police boat just before 5pm.
A Victorian helicopter winched the men from the cold water and flew them to the Launceston General Hospital.
They suffered from hypothermia, but were otherwise uninjured and were discharged last night.
Mr Hector had been in Tasmania with Mr Nelson picking up the plane he had left behind when he returned to his home town, Newcastle.
``We're pretty lucky we're here alive,'' Mr Hector said, as he was wheeled from the helicopter.
``We thought we might not have made it there for a little while but we've put a plane down safe and lived to tell the story.
``We're a bit cold, but the rescuers came and here we are back safe and alive, so I think everything is going to be OK.''
Tasmania Police Detective Sergeant Mike Gillies said the men did well to crash land the plane and be found in a relatively unscathed condition.
He said the personal safety beacon, which they activated, was used to pinpoint their location.
Freedom Flight owner Eugene Reid taught Mr Hector how to fly at his school at George Town and said he was proud of his former student.
``He had done everything possible to make sure the aircraft was safe,'' Mr Reid said.
``You're taught what to do if the engine fails in a paddock and on a beach . . . and you're told how to land in the water, but you can't practise it.
``So this is a good news story.''
Banks Strait runs between Cape Barren Island and the eastern most tip of the North-East.