Pilot escapes north Norfolk crash wreckage through 12-inch gap

PUBLISHED: 15:00 19 October 2012 | UPDATED: 15:37 19 October 2012

The centre of Langham.

The centre of Langham.

A light aircraft pilot from North Walsham, and his passenger, escaped through a 12-inch gap after their aircraft crashed and overturned in a wheat field in north Norfolk earlier this year.

The accident happened at Langham, between Holt and Wells, after the aircraft lost power at around midday on July 22 which led to it crashing into the field - according to a newly published air crash report.

And despite their ordeal 74-year-old pilot and plane owner Peter Hayward, of Yarmouth Road, North Walsham, and his passenger were unhurt.

The Air Accident Investigation Branch report said Mr Hayward, who had 1,312 hours flying experience, had taken off from Little Snoring airfield for a local flight.

And after about 15 minutes, and at a height of around 1,500ft, the engine of the 2005 built Zenair Zodiac aircraft began to lose power and run roughly.

Mr Hayward attempted to restore the power but saw there was no fuel pressure and decided to attempt to reach a disused runway at the airfield at Langham.

The report added: “It had a short but usable paved length, orientated into wind. Just short of the start of the intended landing area, at a height of about 50ft over a wheat field, the engine stopped abruptly.

“The pilot slowed the aircraft and unlocked the canopy prior to touchdown in the field. As soon as the mainwheels touched the crops the aircraft pitched nose-down and inverted, coming to a very rapid halt.

“With the aircraft inverted and the canopy transparency shattered, there was only a space to the left side of less than 12 inches through which to escape, and both occupants had extreme difficulty exiting the aircraft.”

The report added that examination of the damaged aircraft failed to establish the cause of the crash.

The plane was seriously damaged in the crash.

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