Eyewitness tells of glider pilot’s crash landing on roof

A glider pilot ejected from his aircraft after the mid-air crash. Picture: CAMBS FIRE. A glider pilot ejected from his aircraft after the mid-air crash. Picture: CAMBS FIRE.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014
7:00 AM

An eyewitness has described the moment a glider pilot crash landed on his neighbour’s roof after ejecting from his plane.

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The damaged glider. Picture: CAMBS FIRE.The damaged glider. Picture: CAMBS FIRE.

Two gliders collided in mid-air near Little Gransden Airfield at about 1.30pm on Sunday (May 18), forcing one pilot to eject and the other into an emergency landing at Gransden Lodge Airfield.

Roger Pemberton said he was enjoying a glass of wine in his garden in Audley Close, Great Gransden, when he was startled to see a parachute with someone hanging off it dropping out of the sky.

“It could have been catastrophic,” he said. “He could quite easily have landed in front of me on our soft lawn but unfortunately he came down 20ft to one side on my neighbour’s roof, then tumbled down and landed with a thump.

“We heard the thump and dashed straight round because we knew our neighbours weren’t in. Fortunately he was not badly hurt, just bruised, shaken up and shocked. He was very, very lucky.”

The glider crashed into a nearby field.

Mr Pemberton, 74, said he was told by a gliding club member that the parachute was the type used only in emergencies and that the pilot would not have been able to control where he was going to land.

“He wanted to know what had happened to the other glider,” added Mr Pemberton. “One or two others from the gliding club appeared and said not to worry, it had landed safely.”

The East Anglian Air Ambulance, police, firefighters and ambulance crews were sent to Great Gransden, to the delight of youngsters attending Great Gransden Fete. “The kids were having a great time looking at the fire engines and police cars,” said Mr Pemberton, who praised the emergency services for their swift response.

Andrew Watson, spokesman for Cambridge Gliding Centre, which is based at Gransden Lodge, said: “There were three pilots in two aircraft, a single-seater and a double-seater, that collided at 3,000ft.

“The aircraft with two pilots in flew to Gransden Lodge Airfield and the other pilot judged his glider wasn’t airworthy, parachuted out and landed on a single-storey building. All three ended up with nothing more than a few scratches.

“Both pilots were based at the club and have lots of experience.”

He added the accident was reported to the Air Accident Investigation Branch of the Department for Transport and the British Gliding Association is carrying out the investigation, which could take a few weeks to complete.

1 comment

  • Dear Hunts Post, I was fascinated (as well as relieved) to hear that the pilot ejected successfully. To the best of my knowledge this must be the first glider fitted with an ejection seat. It might be a good idea if, before you publish a report about aviation, you have it checked by someone who actually knows something about the subject. I would be happy to do the honours for you in future if that would help. Regards, Ray

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Raymond Smith

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

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