Vintage aircraft flipped upside down in field of crops, report says

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Full details in which a vintage aircraft flipped upside down in a field of crops last year at Netherthorpe Airfield have been published in a new report.

On 16th April 2014, the De Havilland DH82A Tiger Moth, was taking off for a ‘pleasure flight’ in the area when the pilot was unable to get the 1939 aircraft fully in the air.

The 29-year-old pilot, who had over 1,000 hours of flying experience, decided to land in a field and inadvertently flipped the aircraft doing so.

The report, published by the Air Accidents Investigations Branch, says: “The pilot believes that a slight reduction in available power, coupled with calm wind conditions and the short runways at Netherthorpe, contributed to the accident.”

The pilot and passenger were not injured, but the aircraft suffered ‘severe damage’ to its lower right wing, fin propeller and ‘possible distortion of fuselage’.

The Tiger Moth was operated by a company specialising in scenic experience flights, principally in the Tiger Moth aircraft.

The pilot had flown it four times previously on the day and the aircraft had flown a total of six times on the day.

“The first part of the run seemed normal and he let the tail rise,” the report says.

“The aircraft then struck an undulation and briefly became airborne but, despite the pilot’s attempt to stay airborne, it touched down again.”

“Aware that the aircraft was sinking and that there were buildings and hedgerows ahead hidden underneath the nose, the pilot decided to put the aircraft down in a field and chose an oil seed rape field at about his 11 o’clock position.”

“He touched down in the field but was still applying left bank to steer the aircraft away from a hedgerow.”

“The left lower wingtip brushed the crop and then the ground.”

“In trying to straighten up, the right lower wingtip and the main landing gear struck the ground, causing the aircraft to flip inverted at a speed the pilot estimates to have been about 35 kt.”

The report says the passenger evacuated the aircraft first and that the pilot believes that there was insufficient power to climb off the ground. He also said he had ‘anecdotal evidence’ that the Tiger Moth’s Gipsy engine was prone to a reduction of available power when operating continually over a lengthy period, due to heat build-up.

The report concluded: “Both the organisations with type responsibility for the Tiger Moth and Gypsy engines are not aware of such an issue with correctly set up and maintained engines.”