Back in August, we noted the story of a Tiger Moth pilot who managed to walk away after clipping a tree and crash landing in Denbighshire in north-east Wales but now the official report by the Department for Transport’s Air Accident Investigation Branch is out about the incident and naturally the pilot does not come out looking very good in it.
To recap, the pilot had phoned a local named Pam, also a member of the Mold Camera Club, to ask who owned a field next to hers and whether he could use it to land. He later did a fly by of the field, flew a little lower for a second look and on the third attempt, clipped some trees because he could not pull up due to powerlines.
According to the official accident report as noted by the Wales Air Forum, the unnamed pilot had identified the field as a possible landing site three years earlier and he walked it twice on the morning of the accident which made him aware that it would be a difficult landing site approximately 200 yards long that steeply sloped upwards for its first half and less steeply for the second half. Moreover and at the northern end of the field, there was a “small earth bank, a low fence, two trees and power and telephone lines.” Hence:
It was evident to him any go-around decision would need to be made in good time and would require careful flying to avoid the wires and trees.
However as the pilot had recently completed a lengthy series of flights and had a good deal of recent flying practice he was confident a safe landing could be made.
When the incident happened, the pilot made a flypast and an initial approach that had to be abandoned because the aircraft was too fast. On the second attempt, the pilot crossed a hedge but he also became aware that he was not only too fast to safely land, he was also too low to climb above the obstacles at the other end of the field. Hence, he opened the throttle to maintain flying speed and fly between the trees but while concentrating on flying through the space between the fence and the wires, he instead hit tree branches with the aircraft’s right wing tip.
According to the accident report:
The pilot observed the choice of landing site was not a good one and he had not adhered to his own pre-flight plan to go-around if the approach was not entirely satisfactory.
Of course his observation was made after he severely damaged a 73-year old aircraft and nearly killed himself along with the mother of Pam who was standing in the spot he crashed a few moments before. No word on when or whether the aircraft will be flying again – along with the pilot…