Accident fails to halt successful airshow

An ultralight comes in to land at Bockenfield Aerodrome as part of the Great North Fly-In held at the weekend.
An ultralight comes in to land at Bockenfield Aerodrome as part of the Great North Fly-In held at the weekend.

Hundreds of aviation fans descended on a Northumberland airfield at the weekend – but got more drama than they bargained for.

A microlight crashed just hours into the Great North Fly-In, leaving its two occupants in need of emergency treatment for serious bruising and a broken arm.

Storm Smith, owner of Bockenfield Aerodrome.

Storm Smith, owner of Bockenfield Aerodrome.

But the show went on regardless, with more than 160 aircraft arriving at Bockenfield Aerodrome, between Felton and Eshott, over both days.

Storm Smith, who owns the airfield, said the accident was ‘bad luck’ caused by the microlight flying through turbulence generated by a helicopter which had landed shortly before.

“There was no way for them to see the vortices put out by the helicopter,” he said. “With the surrounding air being so still, the turbulence was not blown away and that created the loss of lift. The microlight pilot was very skilled.”

The accident required the attendance of the Great North Air Ambulance, plus a pair of fire engines which stood by as a precaution. Both casualties were taken to the RVI in Newcastle for treatment.

The 50-year-old pilot, who suffered bruising to his chest, was discharged on Sunday, while the 20-year-old female passenger required her broken arm to be pinned. She was released from hospital on Monday.

Despite the initial drama, the weekend was heralded as a huge success, raising over £5,500 for two charities.

Mr Smith said: “I waived all landing fees for the weekend, which went straight into the fund for our two charities, Help for Heroes and Project Mobility.

“There were a lot of people who camped over and enjoyed a live band and barbecue on the Saturday night, which added to the total.”

As well as a wide variety of microlights, ultralight aircraft and even gyrocopters, the weekend enjoyed a visit from British Airways pilot Simon Dawson, who usually flies Boeing 777s on long-haul flights, who arrived in a three-quarter-scale replica of the famous German First World War Fokker Eindecker.

There were also static cockpit displays from vintage aircraft, as well as US Army Air Force vehicles whose owners were dressed in authentic uniform from the Second World War. Last year’s Fly-In featured a pair of Spifires from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, which marked the first time they had been at Eshott since it was a Second World War base.