Norfolk couple tell of their “miraculous escape” from a plane crashing into a greenhouse

The scene of the plane crash in Guernsey, from which a Norfolk pilot and his wife Lynda escaped with minor injuries. Photo By Peter Frankland. The scene of the plane crash in Guernsey, from which a Norfolk pilot and his wife Lynda escaped with minor injuries. Photo By Peter Frankland.

Thursday, June 19, 2014
11:56 AM

A Norfolk pilot has spoken of a “miraculous escape” after his light aircraft crashed into a greenhouse in Guernsey.

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The 4 seater aircraft crash landed into a greenhouse at a private property on Forest Road. Photo by Peter Frankland.The 4 seater aircraft crash landed into a greenhouse at a private property on Forest Road. Photo by Peter Frankland.

Pilot John Shaw and his wife Lynda walked away from the Socata TB-10 Tobago unaided, after the plane crashed just minutes after it took off from Guernsey Airport at 5pm on Tuesday.

Both were taken to the Princess Elizabeth Hospital in Guernsey and treated for non-life threatening injuries. Mr Shaw was discharged from hospital yesterday, but his wife is expected to remain in hospital for several days. No-one else was injured.

Mr Shaw, 59, said the couple had flown from Seething airfield in south Norfolk last Friday to attend an air rally organised by the Guernsey Aero club.

They had stayed on at the end of the event to explore the area and left Guernsey Airport to return to Seething at about 5pm on Tuesday.

Pilot John Shaw pictured shortly after the crash. Photo By Peter Frankland.Pilot John Shaw pictured shortly after the crash. Photo By Peter Frankland.

Mr Shaw said: “It was just about five minutes after we took off that smoke started filling the cockpit.

“There was no visibility and I knew we had to make a forced landing. I did not have time to think whether we were going to die, or about anything else - I just knew I had to try and do those things that I had been taught, to get us out of difficulty. Obviously, it was an extremely uncomfortable situation to be in. We’re just glad to be alive.”

The plane landed on a greenhouse, and Mr Shaw said they had made a “miraculous escape”.

“A lot of damage was caused to the plane, and it’s unlikely it will fly again,” he added.

Mr Shaw has been a member of the Seething flying club, where the aircraft was registered, for 14 years.

He said the crash would probably not put him off flying, but added: “Ask me again in a about a week’s time.”

He praised emergency services in Guernsey for the fast response to the incident.

The couple live in Drayton, near Norwich, and Mr Shaw is a retired IT director. His wife is a part-time receptionist. They have two sons, and Mr Shaw said they had been informed of the incident.

Following the crash, searches were carried out on the grounds before emergency services confirmed no-one else was injured.

Airport director Colin Le Ray said the single-engine private aircraft reported an incident to the east of the airfield shortly after take-off.

The airport was closed for just over an hour while the Airport Fire and Rescue Service dealt with the crash. An eyewitness said they saw black smoke coming from the back of the plane which then started to tilt to the right before banking to the right quickly and crashing into the ground.

A neighbour said: “I just heard a loud bang. I saw it flying over and I thought it looked like an explosion.

“I heard the neighbours shouting and calling the emergency services.”

The plane smashed into a greenhouse, and spilled debris into nearby gardens

Some nearby homes were evacuated but residents were allowed home by 9pm, and the road reopened shortly before 10.30pm. Emergency services worked late into the night to deal with a suspected fuel leak, which could have led to an explosion.

Firefighters sprayed foam on the aircraft and about 200 litres of fuel was unloaded from it.

The plane has been moved and the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) is looking into the crash.

• Have you made a miraculous escape after a crash? Email david.bale2@archant.co.uk

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