FLYING vet' Maurice Kirk is out of hospital and planning to return to Barry following a death-defying crash at the weekend, his wife has said.

The former vet and aviator plunged his World War II plane into the Atlantic Ocean during a solo flight and was rescued near the Dominican Republic, after two hours submerged in bitterly cold water.

But, according to wife and veterinary surgery owner Kirsty, 62-year-old Maurice - who escaped with petrol burns - is more distraught about the loss of his beloved plane.

Maurice issued a life-saving mayday call before his plane went down - one of the many emergency procedures Kirsty says her husband has rehearsed during his years of flying.

Vet Kirsty, whose surgery is in Ty-Newydd Road, Barry, said: "He's always practised forced landings.

"He must have glided it every inch of the way."

The crash, which happened about 75 miles north-west of the town of Puerto Plata, came two years after a similar incident in Japan when his engine lost power and he was injured, suffering sprains.

He was found by a United States coastguard helicopter which had tracked his emergency radio beacon and transferred to the nearby Turks and Caicos islands.

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons expelled Mr Kirk for "disgraceful" conduct in 2002.

The father-of-four's expulsion as a vet enabled him to indulge his passion for flying, and he began an attempt to fly solo around the world in his small Piper Club World War II plane in 2001.

A former drinking friend of the late actor Oliver Reed, Mr Kirk comes from a family of aviators.

Brother Mike died in a plane crash and Maurice, an RAF cadet while at university, remembers his first time in a plane as an occasion when he was unable to see out of the cockpit.

Wife Kirsty, praising the efforts of his rescuers, said she had received a call from New Zealand informing her of this latest incident.

She added: "I think he's all right - just a bit knocked about - he said he was very cold for two hours.

"I think he'll be coming home within the next week.

"He's quite tough and I really don't know how shockable he is - I'm not too worried about him.

"I expect he's going to carry on doing something else."