Elderly pilot escapes helicopter crash

A 71-year-old gyrocopter pilot says he is lucky to be alive after making an emergency crash landing on a beach at Phillip Island.

Elderly pilot escapes helicopter crash

Elderly pilot escapes helicopter crash

Don Cowling escaped with nothing more than cold feet after he crash landed in mud flats at Rhyll beach shortly after 11.30am.

A sole occupant on board, Don told 7News reporter Anastasia Salamastrakis he was 500 metres in the air when the engine suddenly cut out.

"Suddenly it just stopped for no reason. It gave me no warning whatsoever," he said.

With little time to spare, Don, who has 43 years flying experience, managed to guide the aircraft away from the water to avoid drowning.

"If I was in the water, I wouldn't have got out at all," he said.

He deliberately landed in mud flats to cushion his landing.

He was able to get himself out before the aircraft began sinking into the mud.

"I think the fact that he's got no injuries, he's been very lucky," an ambulance spokesman said.

A nurse who was walking her dog at the time saw Don emerge from the wreckage and treated him at the scene.

He was touring the area after taking off from the island's Cape Woolamai.

Despite today's close call, Don says he will continue flying.

In fact he plans to have the aircraft rebuilt and back in the air in a matter of months.

He estimates it will cost around $10,000.

"It won't stop me from flying," Don said. "I love it."