Sheep on runway cause microlight crash

Sheep are to blame for the microlight crash. Picture: Johnston Press
Sheep are to blame for the microlight crash. Picture: Johnston Press
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A FLOCK of sheep forced a microlight pilot to crash after they wandered on to a runway during his take-off.

The 43-year-old man was moments from lift-off at East Fortune Airfield when several sheep jumped over a fence from their field and crossed the runway ahead of him.

He aborted the take-off and hit the brakes, managing to pass through the middle of the flock without hitting any.

As the runway was coming to an end, he turned off the engine and the microlight crashed into a concrete roof truss that had been placed across the end of the runway.

The accident, which happened in September last year, was reported to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) by the pilot and details were published in its latest bulletin.

It said the weather was good in the area and another pilot had made a successful take-off just two minutes before the accident.

The report said the landowner around the airfield has now decided not to keep sheep near the runway and will graze other livestock in enclosed areas nearby. The AAIB report said: “As his take-off progressed, one sheep, followed by several more, jumped an adjacent fence and crossed the runway ahead of him.

“Although he had been just about to rotate, he aborted the take-off, reducing power to idle and braking. The aircraft passed through the middle of the sheep, just missing them. The pilot realised that there was insufficient runway ahead in which to stop, so switched off the engine. The aircraft impacted a concrete roof truss which had been placed across the runway’s end.”

The pilot managed to get out of the aircraft without difficulty and suffered only minor injuries. But the crash caused damage to the landing gear and main body of the Mainair Blade 912.

Gordon Douglas, chief flyer with East of Scotland Microlights, which is based at the airfield, said: “It’s very rare for there to be incidents at the airfield and this was particularly bizarre. There’s been sheep by the airfield for years. Normally they are absolutely fine, but recently they have had a habit of jumping into the next field.

“This particular time they chose the wrong moment.”