Ex-RAF pilot mistook crop field for an airstrip in crash landing
Ex-RAF pilot, 82, flying replica WWII Focke Wulf 190 suffered serious injuries in crash landing after mistaking crop field for an airstrip because of ‘similarity in colour’, report finds
- Barry Conway, 82, crash-landed his replica WW2 Focke Wulf in July this year
- Ex-RAF pilot had to be rescued from aircraft and suffered serious injuries
- Official probe has found that Mr Conway mistook crop field for an airstrip
An ex-RAF pilot flying a replica Luftwaffe plane suffered serious injuries when he mistook a crop field for an airstrip, a report has found.
Barry Conway, 82, crash-landed and flipped the World War Two model onto its roof close to Lower Upham Farm Airstrip on July 12.
The experienced pilot had to be rescued from the homemade Focke Wulf aircraft, which was damaged beyond repair.
A probe has now found that Mr Conway confused an adjacent field with the runway near Marlborough, Wiltshire, ‘owing to its similarity in colour’.
The plane then ‘stopped violently’ and pitched over on landing, trapping the pilot and cracking vertebrae in his neck and back.
Barry Conway, 82, crash-landed and flipped the World War Two model onto its roof close to Lower Upham Farm Airstrip on July 12
A probe has now found that Mr Conway confused an adjacent field with the runway near Marlborough, Wiltshire, ‘owing to its similarity in colour’
A friend and former colleague previously said that Mr Conway was ‘very lucky’ to be alive following the incident.
A report from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch reads: ‘The aircraft had landed in crop to the left of the grass runway.
‘[Mr Conway] reported that he mistook the unmarked grass runway to be part of the crop in the adjacent field to the right of the runway owing to its similarity in colour.
‘Instead, he made an approach to and landed in the field to the left of the runway, where tractor marks and the edge of the grass airstrip had created the appearance of a ‘false’ runway similar in size and shape.
‘The sun overhead may have reduced the contrast between the grass strip and the crops, contributing to the reduced conspicuity of the grass airstrip. The pilot reported that the runway has since been marked out with white chalk lines.’
Emergency services raced to the scene following the crash, which took place amid ‘bright sunshine and light winds’ at around 1:50pm.
Mr Conway, who won the Schneider Trophy Air Race – a 100 mile mid-air race, famous for its top speeds and manoeuvring – in 2000, was then taken to hospital.
His partner in the race, Dudley Pattinson, 76, said at the time that the crash could have been deadly.
He said: ‘The ruts made by the tractor wheels made the plane flip over on to its back.
‘He is very lucky to be with us. He could have easily broken his neck and there was always a concern about the fuel igniting.’
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