Light aircraft hit concrete posts and barbed wire fencing as it landed on an air strip in the fens

PUBLISHED: 11:35 16 November 2020 | UPDATED: 11:35 16 November 2020

Wallis International Airfield, located on the north bank of the River Nene, where a light aircraft landed badly. An accident inquiry report has now been published. Picture; GOOGLE

Wallis International Airfield, located on the north bank of the River Nene, where a light aircraft landed badly. An accident inquiry report has now been published. Picture; GOOGLE

Archant

A 49-year-old pilot says his inexperience of landing on an obstacle laden farm strip was the cause of an accident that ended with his light aircraft coming to rest in a water filled dyke.

It happened at Wallis International Airfield, located on the north bank of the River Nene, and around where the Whittlesey to Thorney road crosses the river; the Dog and Doublet is nearby.

The accident investigators’ report says the pilot applied the wheel brakes “but the left wing became caught in long grass.

“The aircraft yawed to the left, veering off the runway and striking several concrete posts and barbed wire fencing.

“It dropped into a water filled dyke on the north side of the runway and the canopy detached, with the aircraft remaining upright”.

Both the pilot and passenger were uninjured and were able to vacate the aircraft unassisted, says the report.

The report has been compiled by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch that investigates civil aircraft accidents.

Its report notes that “the pilot considered that a lack of experience of landing on a farm strip with obstacles, such as the trees close to the threshold, had caused the aircraft to touch down further into the runway than expected”.

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Encountering the bump in the runway surface and touching down close to the left edge of the runway led to the left wing entering the long grass, says the report.

The pilot had flown from a private farm strip east of Alconbury airfield on June 9.

The flight was uneventful and, on arrival, the pilot flew a normal approach but with a planned go-around to check the runway before landing.

The pilot told the inquiry the tall trees near the runway threshold were noted, as was the direction of the wind, which was from the east and down the runway.

A second approach was made but, due to other traffic, another go-around was flown.

“The third approach was commenced with full flap selected on finals, and with an approach speed of 65 KIAS reducing to 50-55 KIAS over the threshold,” says the report.

“The need to ensure a safe margin over the trees caused the aircraft to touch down approximately half-way along the 770 m grass strip where it went over a bump, causing it to bounce and land back on the left side of the runway.”

The plane involved was a 15-year-old Pioneer 300, G-CDSD.

One flying club that has used the airstrip says in its review that “the main hazard at Wallis is the sheep that graze the land”.


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