Wind caused microlight accident

A GUST of wind was today revealed as the cause of a microlight crash which left both the pilot and passenger injured.The Mainair Blade microlight plummeted 80ft into a potato field in Newbourne Road, Waldringfield, near Sudbury, on May 31, leaving pilot Ian Johnson, 37, of Newbourne, near Woodbridge, and his brother-in-law passenger Gary Ashford, 33, of Leiston, needing hospital treatment.

A GUST of wind was today revealed as the cause of a microlight crash which left both the pilot and passenger injured.

The Mainair Blade microlight plummeted 80ft into a potato field in Newbourne Road, Waldringfield, near Sudbury, on May 31, leaving pilot Ian Johnson, 37, of Newbourne, near Woodbridge, and his brother-in-law passenger Gary Ashford, 33, of Leiston, needing hospital treatment.

A report by the Department of Transport's Air Accident Investigation Branch, based on Mr Johnson's report, today confirmed the cause of the accident as a strong gust of wind which blew the light aircraft off course and into the ground shortly after takeoff.

The report states: "The take-off run was made into wind and the aircraft climbed normally to around 80ft. At this point, the aircraft banked steeply to the left and descended towards the ground.

"Despite the pilot taking corrective action, the aircraft crashed in an adjacent potato field.

"The trike was severely damaged and both the pilot and passenger were seriously injured.

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"The pilot later stated that a farmer, standing near an adjacent barn, reported that around the time of the accident there was a southerly gust of wind with sufficient strength to loosen the roof sheets on his barn. The pilot believes that the upset during the climb was caused by this gust."

After the crash the pair recovered in adjacent beds at Ipswich Hospital, Mr Ashford with a dislocated ankle and Mr Johnson with severe bruising.

Mr Ashford said: "Things could have been a lot worse. The ground just came up very quickly.

"Obviously in the time that was available there was nothing that could be done. Ian had done everything that could be done.

"The scariest thing was wondering if anybody would actually come."

Mr Johnson had already flown that day and described the wind before the eventful takeoff as a "gentle breeze".

Ian's father, Richard, from Iken, said at the time that he thought is was a "freak accident".

He added it looked as if a "freak wind" had pulled the tiny aircraft over and into the field and his son was "extremely lucky" to be on the road to recovery.

Mr Johnson is a member of the Oxfordshire-based British Microlight Aircraft Association with 56 hours flying experience.