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Lucky escape for microlight crash pair

PUBLISHED: 15:22 30 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:23 03 March 2010

A TRANQUIL summer afternoon in a Suffolk village was shattered when a microlight flying at around 1,000 feet spectacularly crashed to earth. Miraculously no one was hurt in the incident.

A TRANQUIL summer afternoon in a Suffolk village was shattered when a microlight flying at around 1,000 feet spectacularly crashed to earth.

Miraculously no one was hurt in the incident yesterday– but the villagers of Cockfield, near Bury St Edmunds were left wondering what had hit them as a search and rescue helicopter, paramedics, fire fighters and police descended on the scene.

The emergency services found the aircraft upside down in a barley field and its two-man crew able to walk away without any apparent injury.

The white coloured mini aeroplane, measuring around 15 feet long was today standing in the farmyard of the farmer whose field dramatically became an emergency landing strip after part of the aircraft's three bladed wooden propeller flew off in mid air.

Considering it made a rapid emergency decent from a reported altitude of around 1,000 the aircraft showed remarkably little damage – save a few scratches, clumps of barley wheat clustered at its wheels and of course a missing propeller.

Retired transport manager Michael Duhig, 57, was with relatives who saw the microlight plummet to the ground as they enjoyed fine sunny weather in the garden.

"There was an enormous bang," he said. "They said they thought it was going to hit the houses. One of my relatives told me how she held her breath as it came towards us, but it veered away and ended up upside down about a quarter of a mile away from the garden.

"I phoned the police who treated it as a full scale emergency incident."

Three fire appliances and a lifting unit joined paramedic police and the search and rescue helicopter, which arrived first on the scene from nearby Wattisham.

"The microlight's engine sounded funny," added Mr Duhig.

"There was an enormous bang and that's when the propeller fell off. They are very lucky chaps, very lucky."

Fellow onlooker Burt Carter, a 72-year-old retired storekeeper, described the noise as a "clump" followed by an ominous silence as the aircraft dived hundreds of feet.

Two men, who have not been named but who were believed to have started their journey from nearby Norton were seen to free themselves from the crippled aircraft – to the amazement of the landowner, farmer Brian Whiting.

"Neither of them were hurt. They acted as if it were an every day happening," he said.

But the dramatic turn of events has left Cockfield talking of little else.

As Mr Duhig put it: "It was a bit of Sunday afternoon excitement, fortunately without tragic consequences. It's quite exciting for Cockfield. Nothing very much happens here."

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