Pilot crashes into hedge after using Duns road as makeshift runway with just 5ft clearance

A pilot crashed a light aircraft into a hedge while trying to take off from a road near Duns in the Borders with just 5ft clearance, investigators reported on Thursday.

The 60-year-old man, who suffered minor injuries in the March 5 incident, was using the A6105 as a makeshift runway two days after he landed in a nearby field during bad weather, which later became waterlogged.

However, he failed to ask permission from road owner Scottish Borders Council or inform the police.

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The UK Department for Transport’s air accidents investigation branch (AAIB) said local residents had assisted the pilot by being sent to close the road to traffic.

The A6105 where the crash happened. Picture: AAIB
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The pilot told the AAIB a strong gust of wind had blown the aircraft to the left as he was taking off, and as he tried to counter the movement, the right wing hit the road, then the left wing struck the hedge.

The AAIB said this caused the EV-97 Teameurostar UK aircraft to turn right round and it ended up on top of the hedge.

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Its 8.1m wingspan meant there was a clearance of just 1.55m (5ft) between each wing tip and the hedges.

The AAIB reported: “Both the width of the road and the distance between the hedges lining the road were significantly less than the minimum dimensions recommended by the Civil Aviation Authority.”

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The aircraft, registration G-CFNW, pictured in 2011. Picture: markyharky/Wikimedia Commons
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The AAIB said the pilot had be flying from Sherburn-in-Elmet near Leeds to Perth when he made a “precautionary landing” because of deteriorating weather in the field.

The field became “very boggy” because of rain and the pilot decided it was unsuitable for a take off, so two days later he paced out a 700m straight on the adjacent A6105 road “that he believed was suitable for the take off run”.

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The pilot told the AAIB he had not informed the council or police about his take off plan because “he had felt a sense of urgency to return the aircraft to the operator as it was due to be used for revenue flights, and he was concerned about its security as it was in clear sight from the road”.

The council said the road would only have been permitted to be used as a runway in “extreme circumstances”, which would have required a police closure and traffic diverted.

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