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The German pilot who ditched his small Beechcraft V35 airplane off Tarawa last week, and was rescued unharmed by the Marshall Islands patrol boat Lomor, is reported by the RMI Sea Patrol to be on his way back to Germany, having departed Majuro aboard a commercial airliner.

The pilot, Horst Ellanberger, was on a flight from Hawaii to Australia when his plane sprang an oil leak and was forced down and sank a week ago in waters about 200 miles from the Kiribati capital.

The Kiribati Co-ordination Center in Tarawa was unable to respond to the emergency because the Kiribati patrol boat was not operational at the time of the accident. As a result, rescue assistance was requested from the neighboring Marshall Islands and its Sea Patrol unit of the Ministry of Resources and Development.

Lieutenant Commander Jack Barker, the Lomor's commanding officer, said his ship also was delayed during the rescue operation, when the patrol boat's engines had to be shut down for more than a half-hour because of overheating.

The trip to the rescue scene and back to port in the Marshalls took almost three days.

The Lomor arrived in Majuro late Saturday.

Commander Barker said the pilot was "healthy and well."

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