Man dies as plane hits tractor

ONE man died and another was seriously injured when a light aircraft hit a crop-spraying tractor and crashed at a South Norfolk airfield.

ONE man died and another was seriously injured when a light aircraft hit a crop-spraying tractor and crashed at a South Norfolk airfield.

The two-seater aeroplane burst into flames after the accident which happened as it approached the runway to land at Seething Airfield, near Loddon, shortly before 2pm yesterday.

Fire crews cut the casualties free from the shattered fuselage and paramedics tried to resuscitate the men, both believed to be in their 50s.

One man was airlifted to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital with critical injuries, but the other was pronounced dead at the scene.

The tractor driver, named as Andrew Hill, escaped serious injury but was recovering at home last night after being treated for shock. The aircraft came to a halt 30ft from his vehicle, which was on a field next to the runway.

Last night, Norfolk police were investigating the cause of the crash along with the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB).

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Paul Bassett, a senior officer with the East of England Ambulance Service which attended the crash scene, said: “We were immediately presented with two casualties from the aircraft and one from the tractor.

“Resuscitation commenced immediately on two of the casualties. One of them was unfortunately confirmed deceased at the scene.

“The second patient was flown by the air ambulance with an anaesthetist on board with what I would describe as critical injuries.”

Mr Bassett said the tractor driver, who is in his 60s, was lucky to walk away from the accident.

“From speaking to him, he didn't see the aircraft coming,” said Mr Bassett. “He heard the bang and wondered what it was. It was a lucky escape.

“The tractor was spraying the field. It remained upright. The only damage that I could see was to the large plastic truck which carries the liquid to put on to the field.”

Norfolk Fire Service watch manager Richard McGonagle said a fire broke out following the crash but it was dealt with by airfield staff.

“There was a significant debris on the start of the approach to the runway and evidence of a collision with the agricultural vehicle. The aircraft was barely recognisable. The debris field suggests the aircraft collided with the crop-spraying tractor before it hit the ground.”

Norfolk police spokesman Jonathan Ford said: “Police are investigating the incident in conjunction with air accident investigators. The investigation will try to establish exactly what happened. It is too early to say at the moment.”

Fire crews from Loddon, Bungay, Norwich, Hethersett and Fakenham were called to the crash.

n Seething Airfield was closed following yesterday's crash, and the Seething Firework Evening due to take place on Saturday has been cancelled. Organisers hope to rearrange the event for a future date.