A PILOT escaped injury when his aircraft crashed into a crop field after overrunning the runway at Brimpton Airfield, an investigation has found.
Police, fire and ambulance services were called to the airfield in Wasing Lane after the Piper PA-38-112 Tomahawk light aircraft ended up nose-down in the field on the morning of Wednesday, June 14 following an attempted take-off.
The 72-year-old pilot told the investigation that a crosswind had likely prevented the single-engine aircraft reaching the required speed of 55 to 60 knots for take-off, causing it to overshoot the 520m runway and plough into the field beyond.
Another pilot at the airfield, who had elected not to fly his aircraft owing to the weather conditions, witnessed the accident.
He reported that by the mid-point of the runway it was evident to him that the accident aircraft had insufficient speed to take off and had expected to see it brought to a stop, but instead it continued and subsequently overran the end of the runway.
Investigators from the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) heard how, prior to departing, the Piper tomahawk pilot, who was the only occupant of the aircraft, observed that the wind was gusting across the airfield.
AN AAIB report stated the pilot, who has 15,000 hours of flying experience, noted that as the take-off progressed, the aircraft did not achieve the expected acceleration, having only achieved a speed of 45 knots at the mid-point of the runway.
Despite this, the pilot told the investigation that he still “fully expected” the aircraft to reach sufficient speed to become airborne before reaching the end of the runway.
The report continued: “However, there was no further acceleration and the aircraft overran the runway, coming to rest nose-down in a crop field approximately 10 to 15m beyond the runway end.”
The pilot was uninjured and exited the plane without assistance.
The aircraft suffered damage to the propeller, engine, fuselage, nosewheel and wings.
The report from the AAIB concluded: “Given the ambient conditions on the day, the presence of a tailwind would have meant that adequate take-off performance could not be assured.”