Pilot rescued after light aircraft crash

FIRE crews have rescued a pilot after his light aircraft crashed in marshland near Tollesbury.The two-seater plane crashed at Woodrolfe Creek at about 6.20pm.

THESE dramatic pictures show the light aircraft which crashed nose-down in marshland last night.

Taken by Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, they show how the pilot - Neil Spooner of Ardleigh Flying Group - was lucky to escape injury.

Emergency crews were alerted shortly before 6.30pm after the single engine aerobatic plane landed in marshes at Woodrolfe Creek, in Tollesbury, near Maldon.

It is believed Mr Spooner was attempting aerobatics when he encountered a problem with the engine.

The plane dropped from the sky in a spin stunt with the engines off but when Mr Spooner tried to restart the engine, it failed and he was forced to attempt an emergency landing.

However, as the plane came down, it clipped a boundary fence and went out of control.

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The Tipsy Nipper T.66 Series 3 landed nose-down in the RSPB marshland at Old Hall Lane, trapping the pilot inside. But miraculously he was uninjured.

This morning the EADT was unable to contact Mr Spooner, who was understood to be arranging the recovery of the aircraft.

Fire engines from Tollesbury, Tiptree, Colchester and Grays, were initially called out but had difficulty getting to the scene due to the remote location of the plane, about a mile into the marshes.

Mr Spooner remained in radio contact with an RAF distress helicopter and police helicopter, which were able to locate the aircraft and fly a doctor to the scene to assess his condition.

A fire engine was directed to the crash site and crews tipped the plane to allow Mr Spooner to climb out. The doctor confirmed he was uninjured.

A friend of Mr Spooner's, who did not want to be named, said he was uninjured but badly shaken by his ordeal.

He said: “He was shaken up and annoyed. He has rebuilt the plane over the last year or so. It suffered some damage.”

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch has been notified.

Divisional Officer Justin Johnson, of Essex Fire and Rescue Service, said: “This was a small plane, carrying just the pilot. He crash landed nose down and the plane tipped up on the uneven surface of the marshes, trapping him inside.

“It was difficult gaining access to the plane as it was stranded right out on the marshes - fortunately the ground was dry and we were able to get an appliance out to the plane.

“Crews tipped the plane to allow the pilot to climb out. He appeared uninjured and was checked over by a doctor who had been flown to the scene by a police helicopter team.”

The plane was powered by a single Volkswagen 1834 engine. Originally made in 1972, it is understood the plane had been rebuilt by Mr Spooner in recent years.

Weighing 329 kilograms, as of December 31 last year it had notched up some 662 flying hours.

The Tipsy Nipper is a single-seater plane which has a welded steel tube fuselage and rudder and a fabric and wooden covered wing, elevator and tailplane. It was designed in the early 1950s to be cheap to run, cheap to maintain and relatively easy to fly.