Norfolk

Skills of pilot in fatal crash questioned in report

A 66-year-old Czech pilot who died in a crash at a Norfolk airfield after a flight from Germany was confused and ill-equipped, an inquiry has found.

Pavel Sedlacek, who crashed at Old Buckenham, had mistakenly landed first at Tibenham glider base, the Air Accident Investigation Branch said.

Other people had expressed worries about him before the crash last May and had urged him not to fly.

Emergency services found the crashed plane on fire and the pilot dead.

Mr Sedlacek was bringing the plane back to Old Buckenham airfield, where he had bought it, to get it serviced.

He crossed the Channel and the southern counties without problem and when he got to Norfolk he contacted Old Buckenham on the radio and told them he was on his final approach.

Fast approach

But he made a mistake and landed at Tibenham airfield, about five miles away, when gliders were out and cables were laid across the runway.

Witnesses said he came in rather fast, no wing flaps lowered to slow his descent, and bounced several times before finally stopping after using nearly all of the runway.

The report said he was sweating profusely, talked about family issues, and people were concerned enough to ask him not to take off again.

But he went off anyway and called Old Buckenham to say he was worried about his brakes, the report said.

Five minutes after taking off from Tibenham witnesses at Old Buckenham saw the aircraft very low and very slow before it crashed just outside the airfield.

Mr Sedlacek had had a pilot's licence for less than three years and had bought the aircraft he crashed less than a year before.

Seemed confused

The report said his general handling was of a low standard, and that his approach to safety caused concern.

He had flown from Germany to Norfolk with incomplete charts and without water-safety equipment such as a life-jacket.

Officials in Germany say he seemed confused on occasions and once, last February, had tried to land on an incorrect runway with the undercarriage raised, and only corrected it when informed by radio.

The report concluded: "The pilot's flying abilities and standard of airmanship appeared questionable."

It also said he was probably distracted when trying to land and if he had only turned toward the airfield instead of away from it he could have landed safely.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites