Two escaped unhurt in Bassetlaw plane crash

The plane involved. Picture: AAIB/Steve Barnes.
The plane involved. Picture: AAIB/Steve Barnes.

A pilot and passenger escaped unhurt when their plane crashed on take-off in Bassetlaw.

A newly published report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch has revealed the 14-year-old plane was “damaged beyond economic repair” in the crash at Headon microlight strip, near Retford, but the 59-year-old pilot and his passenger were uninjured.

The crash happened as the Zenair Zodiac aircraft was taking off on Friday, July 22, 2016, at about 10am.

In its report, the AAIB said: “The aircraft was close to maximum weight, but the pilot knew the airstrip well and did not calculate the required takeoff run.

“He anticipated being airborne before reaching a prominent dip in the grass surface, about two-thirds of the way along the 600m strip.

“The takeoff roll was longer than expected and, although the pilot rotated just before the ‘dip’, he believed, in retrospect, he probably rotated at a slightly lower airspeed than normal.

“At this stage the controls felt ‘heavy’ and, when only a few feet above the ground, the left wing dropped.

“The pilot was unable to regain control and the aircraft veered into a hedge and span around its left wingtip.

“Although the aircraft was severely damaged, the canopy opened normally and the two occupants vacated without assistance. They had been wearing lap and diagonal harnesses and were uninjured.”

The AAIB said the pilot, who had nearly 200 hours of experience at the time of the crash, “believes he was caught out by the combined effects of a tailwind and the low atmospheric density”.

In its report, it said: “In future, the pilot intends to calculate his aircraft’s takeoff performance, with appropriate allowance for the ambient conditions.”