Pilot aged 83 escapes from fireball plane in Lanarkshire field

Image source, AAIB
Image caption,
The experienced pilot had just completed a local flight when smoke started to fill the cockpit

An 83-year-old pilot escaped unharmed after his small plane caught fire as it landed in a field in Lanarkshire.

The pilot was taxiing to a hangar near the village of Thankerton when smoke filled the cockpit.

He scrambled to safety before the Colomban Luciole aircraft, which is built from wood, foam and plastic, burst into flames.

The incident is thought to have been caused by a short circuit around the starter motor igniting fuel.

Image source, Google/AAIB
Image caption,
The pilot's route from the airstrip to the hangar involved several tight turns

The report stated that the experienced pilot had just returned to the Thankerton site where the plane was based after completing a local flight.

It said: "The route from the airstrip to the hangar involved several tight turns and it was following a left turn, where the pilot applied full left rudder pedal, that he felt a restriction.

"Shortly afterwards the cockpit filled with smoke and the pilot quickly exited the aircraft.

"In his haste to exit he did not wait for the aircraft to come to a halt, turn off the fuel or turn off the ignition.

"The aircraft was destroyed by fire but the pilot did not suffer any injuries."

The report concluded the cause of the fire was likely to have been a lack of insulation around the electrical system, which had overheated due to a short circuit.

Following the investigation, the Light Aircraft Association (LAA) has recommended that all UK-registered Colomban Luciole aircraft be modified to the higher heat-resistant fuel pipe specification.