A TRAINEE pilot from Northumberland threw himself out of his out-of-control microlight moments before it crashed and burst into flames, a new report says.
Paul Carvell “chose to abandon” the craft as it hurtled along the ground toward a hangar “rather than risk injury” in the incident at Eshott airfield in Northumberland in March, the study by the Air Accident Investigation Branch adds.
As reported by The Journal at the time, Mr Carvell, 44, from Blyth, suffered a broken leg and torn ligaments when the microlight ran over him.
It then took off pilotless, began performing a “looping manoeuvre” and hit the ground before it could be completed. The microlight then burst into flames.
The AAIB report – based on the pilot’s evidence and CCTV footage of the crash – says his applying the brakes and throttle failed to bring the craft under control, but contains no conclusions or recommendations following the incident.
Last night, the pilot said he was satisfied with the document’s contents and added its authors had accepted his account of the incident.
The Journal reported at the time how glass fibre laminator Mr Carvell, of Woodland Parks, had taken to the cockpit of his microlight to get its engine ticking over ahead of a lesson on the afternoon of March 17.
The report continues: “However, on pulling the start cord, the engine started and immediately ran up to full power. The brakes were applied but did not prevent the aircraft moving forward.
“The pilot manipulated the throttle control but without obvious effect. As the pilot was not intending to fly straight away, he was not strapped in or wearing a protective helmet.
“With the aircraft accelerating towards a hangar, he chose to abandon it rather than risk injury if it struck the hangar.
“He threw himself out of the left side, sustaining a broken leg and torn ligaments when the aircraft’s left wheel ran over his right knee.
“The aircraft missed the hangar but continued and became airborne. Footage from a CCTV camera showed the microlight climbing steeply before stalling and entering a dive.
“It then performed a low-level looping manoeuvre, striking the ground at relatively high speed before the manoeuvre was completed. The aircraft was destroyed in the accident and a wire fence was also damaged.”
Mr Carvell was given first aid at the scene by airfield owner Storm Smith, and taken to Wansbeck General Hospital at Ashington.
Speaking from his hospital bed days later, he told The Journal he had feared he was probably going to be killed and that he would have been killed had he been wearing the seatbelt.
But he told was not frightened of flying and had no plans to give up. Last night, he said the report had accepted his account. He said: “It sort of sums it up really. They really could not pinpoint what the cause was.
“The aircraft was so badly damaged they could not investigate any control malfunctions, the crash would have damaged all the evidence.”
Mr Carvell told how he had been in hospital seven days and that his leg had been in a cast for 12 weeks, and still requires a knee brace sometimes.
He will have to undergo months of physiotherapy. However, the pilot told how he had stunned his surgeon who assumed he would need an operation, only for leg to seemingly heal itself.
He is now able to walk and plans to return to work in the next two weeks. Mr Carvell said it will be “at least a year” before he is fit enough to fly again.
He thanked the hospital for its care, Mr Storm and all at Eshott for their support, as well as his friends, family and his employer.