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Pilot, 83, forced to escape plane as it burst into flames

The pensioner fled the aircraft when the cockpit filled with smoke as he headed back to the hangar.

Fire: The aircraft burst into flames.
Fire: The aircraft burst into flames. AAIB

An 83-year-old pilot was forced to escape his plane as it burst into flames in a South Lanarkshire village.

The pensioner, who had more than 15,000 hours of flying experience, fled the aircraft when the cockpit filled with smoke as he travelled back to the nearby hangar.

Fire then consumed the single-seat Colomban Luciole plane as smoke billowed out of it on a farm strip at Thankerton, a small village between Biggar and Lanark.

The pilot did not suffer any injuries during the incident.

The Air Accident Investigations Branch report said: "After a local flight, the ground taxi route back to the hangar involved several tight turns and when full left rudder pedal was applied the cockpit filled with smoke.

Thankerton: Taxi route and accident location.
Thankerton: Taxi route and accident location. Google Maps

"The pilot exited the aircraft without injury and the ensuing fire consumed the aircraft. 

"It is suspected that the terminals of the starter solenoid were not insulated, and the rudder pedal created an electrical short circuit which damaged a fuel pipe and ignited the fuel.

"Several safety actions have been taken to prevent recurrence."

The incident had taken place around 6.15pm on April 10 after the pilot had returned to the farm strip, where the aircraft was based, after "an uneventful local flight".

The source of the fire was the electrical system, which had overheated because of a short circuit.

Following the investigation, the Light Aircraft Association recommended all UK-registered Colomban Luciole aircraft be "modified to the higher heat-resistant fuel pipe specification".

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