Lucky escape for pilot

THE pilot of a light aircraft owned by a Redditch flying group had a lucky escape when the aircraft skidded to a halt in a ploughed field at the end of a runway.

The pilot blamed a late change of runway from the one he had planned for as a contributory factor to him forgetting to put the plane’s landing gear down.

The 1965 built Gardan Horizon – reg G ASZS – registered in the name of Laurence Richard Burton, trustee of the ZS Group of Redditch, was seriously damaged in the incident at Leicester Airport on the afternoon of August 14.

Now, in a newly published Air Accident Investigation Branch report the 56-year-old pilot who had 500 hours flying experience, has said that the late change to a shorter and “challenging” runway probably resulted in him concentrating on the landing to the extent that he failed to complete routine checks and failed to realise he had not put the landing gear down.

The report says that initially on the flight from Wellesbourne Airfield to Leicester he had been told he would be landing on runway 29 which was 935 metres long. But on arrival he was told that runway 22 which was only 490 metres long was being used.

The report continued: “Realising this difference, the pilot reported that landing ‘would be a real challenge’.

“He reported that concentrating on the approach then caused him to forget the downwind checks.

“These included checking that the landing gear and flaps were extended. The aircraft touched down on runway 22 with the landing gear and flaps up and slid to a halt in a ploughed field at the end of the runway.

“The pilot, who was wearing a lap and diagonal harness, was uninjured. He indicated that the landing gear warning horn failed to operate, probably due to a tripped circuit breaker.”

The landing gear warning horn is designed to operate when the gear is up and engine rpm is less than 1,700.

The report says that although the pilot walked away from the crash unhurt the aircraft suffered damage to the propeller, front cowling, scoops and aerials under fuselage, lower wing skins and shock-loading to the engine.

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