Pilot’s lucky escape after plane crashes at Thames airfield

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The pilot of a light aircraft had a lucky escape from serious injury after his plane clipped powerlines and crashed at the Thames airfield on Sunday.

The crash, at the eastern end of the airfield’s east-west runway, happened near Ngati Maru Highway at 12.45pm.

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The pilot was reportedly out of the plane and appeared to be uninjured, police said.

Edwin Booth captured this image of the crash aftermath.

Edwin Booth/Supplied

Edwin Booth captured this image of the crash aftermath.

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Thames resident Edwin Booth happened on the scene just minutes after the crash.

He said he saw the pilot, an older man, who appeared to be unscathed. He was getting his belongings out of the cockpit.

Police, firefighters and St John Ambulance staff were all at the crash site, he said.

“I assume he was coming in to land when it happened,” Booth said. “I think the guys who use the airfield are generally pretty safety conscious. I have lived in Thames for six years, and this is the first crash I have heard about happening there.

The light plane crashed at the eastern end of the runway about 12.45pm.

Edwin Booth/Supplied

The light plane crashed at the eastern end of the runway about 12.45pm.

”My father is over from South Africa and I was taking him to see the Spitfire that’s out at the airfield, but we got a different aircraft experience than what we were expecting,” Booth said.

The plane, a Tecnam Eaglet, is owned by the Hauraki Aero Club, which is based at the airfield. Chief flying instructor Cliff McChesney said he knew the pilot, who lived in the district, well and had spoken to him after the crash.

“He had no injuries whatsoever – although I suspect his pride might have taken quite a hammering.”

The power lines had long been a concern for aviators making use of the east-west runway, he said.

”We have been suggesting those lines be moved for a long time now. Now that this has happened we might finally see something happening.”

The Eaglet was the club’s only aircraft at present. It had been insured for a $235,000 full replacement cost.

“We have currently got 40 members, 20 of whom are active fliers. We are all grounded now.”

Civil Aviation would be investigating the crash, he said, however the Transport Accident Investigation Commission would not be involved because the crash was not a fatality.

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