A 90-year-old pilot may have been under pressure to fly when he had an accident, a report claims.
The man, one of the UK’s oldest pilots, was seriously injured after crashing his microlight into a tree, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) report has found.
Lost control on landing
The pensioner lost control of his microlight during landing on an airstrip near Edenbridge, Kent, in July last year.
Investigators say his decision to fly at a time when conditions were more likely to be turbulent than in the early evening could have been influenced by the fact the airstrip operator had taken time to help him prepare the aircraft.
“He may have felt some pressure to fly,” the report stated.
An onlooker who saw the accident said the Pegasus Quantum 15 microlight looked “a bit wobbly” on approach and was travelling “too fast and at too acute an angle” as it came in to land at East Haxted Farm Airstrip.
The pilot, who was not identified by the AAIB, encountered “very rough air”. This caused him to veer off course.
The man managed to abort the landing but in doing so hit an oak tree. He was left entangled in its branches at a height of around 15 feet for several hours as fire crews worked to release him.
He was then airlifted to a nearby hospital suffering chest and hand injuries.
Not a regular flier
The man had held a private pilot’s licence since 1997. Although he was reasonably experienced he was not in current flying practice, claims the report. He had flown for just two hours in the 90 days leading up to the crash.
Civil Aviation Authority data from December 2015 shows that he was one of the country’s oldest pilots, as just 13 people aged 89 or older held pilot licences at that time.
Holders of his type of licence aged over 50 must renew a medical certificate every 12 months to keep flying.
Date Published: January 28, 2017
Author: Jonathan Brown