Change in wind direction could have caused plane crash near Castle Bytham

The plane that crashed into a home near Castle Bytham on November 19, 2014. Photo: Central Commuications Corp EMN-141120-090250001

The plane that crashed into a home near Castle Bytham on November 19, 2014. Photo: Central Commuications Corp EMN-141120-090250001

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A light aircraft may have crashed into a bungalow because of a sudden change in wind direction, an investigation has found.

The 73-year-old pilot of the Denney Kitfox ultralight was seriously injured in the crash, which happened at a grass airstrip between Castle Bytham and Swayfield just after 2pm on November 19.

The airstrip near Castle Bytham where a plane crashed on November 19, 2014. Photo: Google. EMN-141120-092518001

The airstrip near Castle Bytham where a plane crashed on November 19, 2014. Photo: Google. EMN-141120-092518001

An Air Accident Investigation Branch report, released this month, said the experienced pilot noticed that the wind direction had changed as he made his approach to one of the strip’s two runways. He positioned himself to land on a different runway.

The report says: “The approach was normal, but the pilot sensed a higher than usual groundspeed just before landing and, after landing, recalled seeing the windsock indicating a slight tailwind on that runway. He commented that he had previously observed rapid changes in indicated wind direction when light wind conditions existed at the airfield.

“After touching down on a relatively short, wet grass runway, the pilot decided that he would be unable to stop the aircraft before encountering a boundary fence. He applied full power and selected a climbing attitude in order to fly a go-around.

“The aircraft cleared the fence but failed to climb, subsequently colliding with the roof of a bungalow, about 50m beyond the fence. The pilot, who sustained a serious injury, believed that the aircraft had most probably been placed in a high drag situation which exceeded its performance capabilities.”

The pilot remained conscious but could not get out of the plane due to its position. He was eventually freed by emergency services and airlifted to Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham, where it was discovered that he had suffered a serious back injury.

The report adds: “The pilot did not believe that he had lost control of the aircraft, nor did he suspect a failure or defect with the aircraft’s structure or its systems, noting that damage to the propeller was consistent with a high power setting.

“Instead, he thought it most likely that the aircraft had lifted off prematurely at a low speed and he had selected a slightly higher pitch attitude than was normal, resulting in a high drag condition which prevented the aircraft climbing or accelerating.”

The aircraft is registered in the name of John Philip Jenkins, Trustee of the Kitfox KFM Group, Station Road, Thurnby, Leicester.

The full report can be seen at www.aaib.gov.uk.