Pilot walks away from Lewes plane crash

The pilot of a light aircraft walked away unhurt when it dramatically cartwheeled to a halt along the airstrip at Swanborough Farm, Lewes.

Now an official report has indicated that the threads of the bolts holding a wheel assembly on had stripped and that the wheel probably came away when the aircraft took off.

The 1988 Laser plane was registered to an address in Chuck Hatch, Hartfield.

The newly published Air Accident Investigation Branch report leaves a question mark over why the thread had stripped and further investigations are still to be carried out on that aspect of the crash.

The accident happened on the afternoon of May 31 and the report says that while the un-named 50-year-old pilot, who had 852 hours flying experience, walked away from the crash uninjured the aircraft was “damaged beyond economic repair”.

Describing what happened, the report says : “The aircraft was returning to Swanborough Farm Airstrip following about 30 minutes of aerobatic practice.

“On touching down on Runway 24, the aircraft immediately pitched forward, yawed to the right and cartwheeled before coming to rest only 30 yards from the touchdown point.

“The pilot evacuated the aircraft normally via the opening canopy and immediately saw that the right mainwheel was missing and that the landing gear leg had ‘dug in’ to the grass.”

It says that the pilot considered, from the position where the wheel was found, that the wheel had come off as the aircraft took off.