General Election 2010: Ukip candidate Nigel Farage injured in plane crash

A FORMER leader of the UK Independence Party involved in an air crash this morning was "lucky to escape without serious injuries" according to the policeman leading the incident investigation.

• Investigators inspect the wreckage of the aircraft which crashed at an airfield in Northamptonshire this morning

Nigel Farage, who is standing against Commons speaker John Bercow in the Buckingham constituency, was in a plane towing the message 'Vote for your country - Vote Ukip' when the aircraft went down at Hinton-in-the-Hedges airfield in Northamptonshire.

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Mr Farage was taken to Horton General Hospital in Banbury where he was treated for non-life threatening injuries to his hands and head. The plane's pilot was airlifted to Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry.

Detective Chief Inspector Martin Kinchin, of Northamptonshire Police, surveying the mangled metal, said: "The people inside the plane were lucky to come out with not very serious injuries."

The plane had been preparing to land on the concrete runway when it crashed, officers believe.

Conditions were overcast this morning, Mr Kinchin said.

Describing how the crash happened, he said: "It is our belief that the plane had recently taken off from here and was manoeuvring back to the airfield."

When asked if the Ukip banner had become tangled in the aircraft, causing the crash, he said it was too early to speculate.

The white banner, which landed several hundred metres from the plane, had been attached to it previously, he confirmed.

The engine landed a short distance from the body of the plane.

Police officers remained at the crash site, at the edge of a field, gathering evidence.

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A party spokesman said: "We've had unconfirmed reports that either the banner got snagged up or there were cross-winds and it was an unfamiliar airfield to the pilot, who had to be cut out of the plane."

Mr Farage suffered "minor head injuries" but campaigners had been told to "carry on", he said.

The aircraft was believed to be a 1960s-style biplane which left the Winchester area of Hampshire early today and flew into Hinton.

The accident happened as it was taking off again from Hinton, the spokesman said.

The plane was due to fly over Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire.

The crash is being investigated by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch, supported by Northamptonshire Police.

A police spokesman said: "Just after 8am a light aircraft came down at Hinton-in-the-Hedges Airfield near Brackley in Northamptonshire.

"Two people were on board the aircraft, pilot and passenger, and both suffered what are believed to be minor injuries."