Pilot injured crash trained on home computer

A PILOT who was seriously injured when his microlight crashed into a field had trained himself on a home computer to fly the aircraft, an investigation into the incident has revealed.

Peter Morley was seriously injured when his microlight nose-dived into a field next to Newnham Way in Ashwell after entering into a spin from which it did not recover.

A report from the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) about the incident, which happened on May 18 last year, said “a simple handling error may have caused the spin”.

Mr Morley, 62, was interviewed in hospital some months after the accident, when he had recovered sufficiently to give an account. He said he had not undertaken any training to fly the three-axis aircraft, but had “spent considerable time using a flight simulator programme on his home computer”.

Mr Morley, who could not remember any details of the flight, was an experienced flexwing aircraft pilot, but the fundamental control systems of the two aircraft are very different.

“His use of his personal computer flight simulator may have been of some value, but was not a substitute for proper training, especially with a flying instructor,” said the AAIB report, which recommends that the Civil Aviation Authority introduces distinct pilot qualifications for microlight aircraft of each control system.

The AAIB investigation also revealed that the aircraft had not completed test flying for a permit to fly.

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In conclusion, the report said: “The pilot’s ability to control the aircraft may have been influenced by his lack of training or experience in three-axis aircraft and by his greater familiarity with flexwing aircraft.

“The aircraft was only permitted to fly in the hands of a designated test pilot who, had he been given this opportunity, may have been able to identify any unacceptable characteristics.”