Old Buckenham crash pilot talks of his dramatic escape

A pilot who had to make a dramatic crash landing at Old Buckenham Airfield yesterday after a fault developed in his landing equipment paid tribute a fellow pilot and emergency services who came to his rescue.

Hugh Murray, from Snailwell, near Newmarket, had just set off for Gloucester from Knettishall airfield in Suffolk when the nose wheel of his plane jammed and the emergency lights came on.

'There was a brief moment of denial, I thought this cannot be happening', said the 58-year-old. 'There was an irrational desire to land where I was. I wanted to get back on land.'

After seeing the emergency lights, he flew to Old Buckenham Airfield before flying on to Norwich Airport. The runway was in the wrong direction so he returned to Old Buckenham Airfield to prepare for a crash landing. He was circling for an hour-and-a-quarter while the emergency services – including fire crews, police and land and air ambulances – got into place.

Hearing of Mr Murray's problem a pilot from Great Massingham flew out to give him moral support. He flew alongside Mr Murray, who has only been flying for a year, giving him advice and reassurance.

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'The real hero was Dave Clark from Great Massingham who sat alongside me and gave me advice and helped me think straight when I might have been prone to panic. He was just absolutely brilliant.'

'I was frightened. There was no question of that. Normally if you have a crash, you have a crash. I was thinking I am either going to wake up in hospital, I am not going to wake up at all or I am going to walk free.'

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When he landed the propeller ploughed into the ground and he came to a halt.

'I just undid my seat belt and waved to the emergency services', he said.

Mr Murray, who is a company director at management training material company Scott Bradbury Ltd, said that his insurance company would now look at the plane, but he was hoping that he will be able to repair it and fly again soon.

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