People in field as damaged plane landed

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A PILOT who had to make an emergency landing when smoke filled his plane’s cockpit managed to avoid a number of people in a nearby field, an accident investigation report states.

The incident happened in June 2011 near Gloucester Lodge Farm on the outskirts of Blyth.

An Air Accidents Investigation Bureau (AAIB) report stated an oil leak caused the plane to catch fire and force an emergency landing.

But after selecting a flat field to land in, pilot Gary Cotterell had to select an adjacent field which had a series of ridges and furrows as there were people in his first choice.

The landing of the Jabiru J430, G-RCST, amateur-built plane was successful although the rough nature of the field resulted in some damage to the nose landing gear.

The pilot had taken only just taken off from Eshott near Felton and was flying to Norfolk when smoke suddenly appeared in the cockpit.

The AAIB report said this was caused by a large quantity of oil that had been lost via a split along a seam at the rear of the engine oil cooler.

Some of the oil had dropped onto the exhaust system, generating the smoke that had entered the cockpit.

The report concluded that the Light Aircraft Association are to conduct a survey of owners of this particular aircraft to establish the extent of oil cooler problems, whilst at the same time evaluating other available oil coolers.