Untrained pilot fell 300ft to his death in microlight tragedy

The scene the microlight crash close to Kennet village near Clackmannan
The scene the microlight crash close to Kennet village near Clackmannan
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A MICROLIGHT pilot who was killed just after take-off on his first solo flight had had no formal training, air accident investigators reported today.

Adrian Paterson, 49, from Clackmannan, died when his craft plunged to the ground, probably after stalling following a steep climb, the Department for Transport’s air accident investigation branch (AAIB) said.

He is believed to have fallen up to 300ft in his Gemini Flash IIA.

The crash, in a field in the Carse of Clackmannan near Kennet on 12 April, happened after Mr Paterson took off, leaving two friends on the ground.

One of them was an experienced microlight pilot, although not an instructor, who helped taxi the aircraft into position.

The investigation concluded the crash happened because Mr Paterson had attempted a solo flight without the required training.

The AAIB said he had bought the microlight last autumn, but the Civil Aviation Authority was not notified and it was deregistered in December.

The 23-year-old aircraft was in good condition, despite not having been officially inspected for three years.

The AAIB also found no record of Mr Paterson taking a formal flying training course and he did not have the required medical declaration for flying a microlight.

The AAIB said: “There was some anecdotal evidence that the owner had taken lessons, but the provider was not traced and it is not known how many lessons were undertaken or if the person delivering them was a qualified instructor.”

Mr Paterson was also not a member of a microlight club.

The AAIB said he may have had “only limited experience of flying as a passenger”. He had flown in another microlight before buying his own, but had not operated the controls.

The AAIB report stated: “Immediately after takeoff, the weight-shift microlight entered a steep climb.

“The nose then dropped (probably as a result of a stall) and the aircraft struck the ground in a steep nose-down 

“It is probable that the owner did not use the correct takeoff technique and allowed the wing to remain in a high angle of 

“The rapid nose drop probably occurred as the result of a stall, which may have been 
exacerbated by the reduction in power.

“The resulting nose-down attitude, with the possible subsequent addition of power so close to the ground, would have made recovery difficult.”

The investigation also found no ballast on the rear seat, which is recommended by the aircraft manufacturer when the microlight is flown solo.

The report said a post-mortem examination found Mr Paterson died of multiple injuries, but there was no evidence of drugs, alcohol or natural disease.

An ambulance spokesman said at the time of crash: “Paramedics at the scene estimated that the microlight had come down from a height of between 200ft to 300ft.”

Microlight pilots are required to hold a licence that takes a minimum of 25 flight hours to achieve.