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Terrifying plane crash may have been caused by wind

The plane was well alight and the firefighters used foam to put it out. Photo: Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service

Wind conditions may have been to blame for a light aircraft horror crash at Perranporth Airfield in August.

The plane nosedived into the runway before being engulfed by flames.

Miraculously the pilot and passenger escaped with just minor injuries.

It's thought the craft stalled soon after take off. Credit: ITV West Country

The crash happened as the 1981 built Piper Cherokee Warrior – reg G CGDJ – owned by Richard Jonathan Houghton of The Spinney, Beech Hill, Headley Down, Bordon, in Hampshire attempted to take off on the afternoon of 11 August.

The plane in flight on a previous trip Credit: Civil Aviation Authority

A newly published Air Accident Investigation Branch report into the incident says that the 64-year-old Pilot who had 210 hours flying experience had landed at Perranporth to re-fuel during a flight from the Scilly Isles to Blackbush Airport in Hampshire.

A man and a woman managed to escape before the plane burst into flames Credit: ITV West Country

However, it says that as he attempted to take off from Perranporth for the rest of his flight the aircraft became airborne only briefly and then nose-dived into the runway after stalling.

The report continues :“Both occupants sustained minor injuries in the accident, but managed to vacate the aircraft before fire consumed the majority of the fuselage.”

The report continues : “The pilot described the initial part of the takeoff as normal, with the aircraft becoming airborne and climbing normally for 3 - 4 seconds. He reported that the aircraft then started to descend, in a nose-high attitude, and that he felt as if there was a loss of engine power, although he did not recall whether the engine rpm had reduced. Neither the pilot, nor his passenger, recalled hearing the stall warning horn during the takeoff.

“The pilot checked that the fuel was selected on, the mixture was set to rich, the carburettor heat was cold and the primer was locked closed, but the aircraft continued to descend, stalling just prior to impacting the runway nose-first, close to the upwind end of Runway 27. The aircraft came to rest on grass, a short distance to the north of Runway 27.

“The pilot reported that he saw smoke coming from under the engine, and that he switched the master switch to off and that he believed he had also turned the fuel selector to off.

“Both pilot and passenger sustained minor injuries in the impact, but both were able to vacate the aircraft via the right cabin door. The aircraft continued to burn, with fire consuming the majority of the fuselage before fire-fighting appliances arrived and extinguished the fire.”

The report says that experts have been unable to pinpoint the cause of the crash but consider it could have been wind conditions on the day.

It says : “As the takeoff and initial climb performance was described as normal, any power reduction that might have occurred must have happened during the latter stages of the takeoff.”

But it adds : “It is also possible that downdraft turbulence from the upwind sea cliffs may have caused, or contributed to, the descending flight path during the latter stages of the takeoff.”