Aircraft Collides into Car in North Weald
Last Sunday I heard about a surprising incident at North Weald, one of my favourite airfields and the location where the Saratoga is currently parked and waiting for me to pay it some attention.
It seems that this Aero AT-3 was coming into land when something went wrong.
The main runway was closed for a drag-racing event. Runway 13 was open and in use. It seems the aircraft initiated a go-around and then began descending – for reasons unknown – near the Squadron on the perimeter road. It was here that he ran into the Volvo pulling away from the Squadron. He rear-ended the car and both vehicles burst into flames. The Volvo occupants were able to exit the car and drag the pilot out of the aircraft.
Fire crews were on site for the drag race and were able to react immediately.
Incident No: 9155
Details: Aircraft and car alight
Address: North Weald Airfield, Merlin Way, North Weald
Attendance: 2 x Epping, 1 x Ongar, 1 x Harlow
Crews are working with North Weald Airfield’s volunteer fire crew to tackle a blaze involving an aircraft and a car. The volunteers were fortunately at the airfield to provide cover to a drag race event so were immediately on hand when the accident happened.
At 14:50 hrs, firefighters report that they one main jet and foam are being used to extinguish the blaze – 50 per cent of the car, a Volvo X60. and 50 per cent of the aircraft – a two seater single engine AT3 – are alight.
Crews are assisting Ambulance paramedics in dealing with one casualty – a man, who is believed to have been piloting the aircraft. No details relating to the extent of his injuries are available at this time but they are believed to be serious and he was taken to hospital.
The incident was dealt with by 15:09 hrs.
A fire service spokeman at the scene said: “An onlooker who saw the incident told us that the plane appeared to come into land but immediately took off again, banking over the top of a hanger before coming back to try a second landing and clipping the back of a brand new Volvo with two people inside who were driving out of the airfield.”
Station Officer Len Cleary, the officer in charge, said: “The pilot was lucky. It appears that the two people in the car brought him clear of the fire after the collision.
“It is not clear at this stage whether the incident was caused by mechanical failure or human error.
“The volunteer fire team acted swiftly to cover the scene with a blanket of foam so when we arrived the fire was under control.
“We have now scaled back our investigation but may return to the scene should the Civil Aviation Authority deem an investigation necessary.”
Here is a photograph of the Cockpit of Aero AT-3 G-UKAT by David Moth before the accident.
This is what it looks like now:
The accident photographs are courtesy of the Essex County Fire and Rescue Services Incident Image Library.
There’s a little more information on this post on the Flyer Forums message board from an eye-witness.
Aircraft and car incident at North Weald
I arrived at NW on Sunday disappointed to find that the main runway was shut for drag racing, and that they were using RWY13 with a wind of about 04012KT (according to EGSS METARs) which put it about on the x-wind limit for my aircraft. I was therefore keeping a good look out on the other traffic seeing how they were coping with the x-wind on the shorter runway, I’d never used RWY13 before and there is quite a dip in it too.
Having been to give my aircraft a check, I was walking along the taxiway which runs infront of the squadron and looked up just as the aircraft was climbing out (I wasn’t looking in time to see if it had taken off or was going around, so cannot end the speculation on that point I’m afraid). At approx 150ft and in line with the taxiway intersection, the aircraft entered a rather sharp left turn through approx 90 degrees, pointing toward me (North) for a few seconds, and possibly still climbing but difficult to tell now from this angle. It continued this left turn, angle of bank appearing to get steeper and aircraft now descending, almost over the top of the squadron at this point. The turn continued and descent was quite rapid by this point, and by the time the aircraft had gone behind the squadron out of sight it was now pointing South, perpendicular again with RWY13. A second or so later I heard the bang, and once I’d gone round the corner observed that the aircraft had hit the Volvo somewhere on it’s right side, as it was driving away from the squadron area.
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) have already been to the site as a part of their investigation. I’ll add a link to the sidebar when the report comes out but by all accounts, the pilot is lucky to have escaped with his life.
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