Microlight crash pilot, 90, 'may have felt pressure to fly'

Fire crew using a ladder Image copyright SECAMB
Image caption Firefighters used a winch, lines and ladders to extract the elderly pilot from the microlight

A 90-year-old pilot who was seriously hurt when his microlight crashed in to a tree may have felt under pressure to fly, according to an accident report.

He lost control of his microlight while attempting to land at an airstrip near Edenbridge, Kent, on 16 July last year.

Investigators said his decision to fly at 15:30 BST was when conditions were more likely to be turbulent than later.

They said he may have been influenced by the fact the airstrip operator took time to help him prepare the aircraft.

"He may have felt some pressure to fly," the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) report found.

A nearby dog walker described how the Pegasus Quantum 15 was "a bit wobbly" and travelling "too fast and at too acute an angle" as it came in to land at East Haxted Farm Airstrip.

The AAIB said the pilot encountered "very rough air" which caused him to veer off course and abort the landing.

Image copyright SECAMB
Image caption The microlight came down in a tree in a field near Edenbridge

The pilot, who was not identified by the AAIB, suffered chest and hand injuries when the microlight became entangled in the branches of an oak tree about 15ft (4.6m) above a field near Lingfield Road.

He was freed after several hours by fire crews using using ladders, lines and a winch.

He had held a private pilot's licence since 1997 and although he was "reasonably experienced" he was "not in current flying practice" and had flown for just two hours in the 90 days leading up to the crash, the report said.

Civil Aviation Authority data from December 2015 shows 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.

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