Pilot's lucky escape after fire

A pilot was forced to land in a field when fire broke out in the cabin of his light aircraft, investigators have revealed. Smoke and flames broke out behind the instrument panel when the 45-year-old's Cessna 172 was 900ft above Snetterton.

A pilot was forced to land in a field when fire broke out in the cabin of his light aircraft, investigators have revealed.

Smoke and flames broke out behind the instrument panel when the 45-year-old's Cessna 172 was 900ft above Snetterton.

It happened on October 28 last year after he tried to reset circuit breakers when the fuel level indicator appeared to be wrong.

His vision hindered by the smoke, he put the plane down in a field next to the runway at Old Buckenham airfield, and was met by the airfield fire crew which had just finished its Saturday morning practice - saving the aircraft from any major fire damage.

An Air Accidents Investigation Branch report says it was lucky the aircraft was low and could find a quick landing spot, or a "potentially more serious outcome could be expected".

It has called for other fliers to be issued with two safety warnings - about checking their electrical systems have appropriate "over voltage protection", and not to reset the circuit breakers in mid-air unless it was absolutely essential.

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A second report involving a Norfolk airfield highlighted a forced landing at Northrepps airfield near Cromer at 5.20pm on March 13 this year.

A single-engined Skyranger plane's engine cut out at 400ft as it was taking off, forcing the pilot to land in a field.

The investigation could not establish the cause of the engine failure.

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