Northamptonshire plane crash: Report says pilot clipped trees

Mustang Image copyright AAIB
Image caption The Midget Mustang came down in woodland close to Spanhoe Airfield

A pilot was seriously injured when his aircraft clipped a tree canopy and stalled during a lift manoeuvre, an air crash investigation has found.

The man was hurt and his 1973 Midget Mustang destroyed in the crash close to Spanhoe Airfield, near Corby in Northamptonshire, in July.

An air accident report said the pilot had "banked left" after descending to check the airfield's windsock.

The manoeuvre caused the pilot to "lose control of the aircraft", it said.

A report by the pilot, submitted to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), described how the 56-year-old, who is not named in the report, was flying from Leicester Airfield to Sibson Aerodrome near Peterborough on 21 July.

Image copyright Google
Image caption The pilot was flying over Spanhoe Airfield in Northamptonshire when the accident happened

He flew over Spanhoe Airfield, near Corby, at about 16:30 BST to check the wind conditions and "decide whether he was going to land there to visit friends".

The report said he descended to 600-700ft (180-210m), but during the pull-up "the next thing he remembers is hitting the tree canopy."

Investigators said the "increased lift needed to maintain the turn" led to a greater "aerodynamic drag of the aircraft" - causing it to slow and stall.

"It seems most likely that the final manoeuvre increased the aircraft's stall speed to, or beyond, the aircraft's airspeed which caused it to stall and the pilot to lose control of the aircraft with limited height available to recover before the aircraft struck the trees," the report concluded.

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