Natalie Akoorie

Natalie Akoorie is a reporter at the NZ Herald based in Hamilton.

Pilot on first solo flight crashes plane at Hamilton airstrip

A light aircraft has crashed into a parked plane after an emergency landing this morning at the Waikato Aero Club. Photo /  Christine Cornege
A light aircraft has crashed into a parked plane after an emergency landing this morning at the Waikato Aero Club. Photo / Christine Cornege

A young pilot is in "deep shock" after crashing a light plane into another shortly after take off this morning.

The 25-year-old man was attempting his first solo flight when the Tecnam P2008 training aircraft he was flying malfunctioned at the Waikato Aero Club, on the outskirts of Hamilton about 9am.

Club chief executive Richard Small said the student pilot managed to get the single-engine plane under control just metres above the ground but landed heavily on the airstrip, colliding with a parked Cessna 172.

"Something happened with the aircraft after take off and it came down to the ground quite rapidly but he did manage to get it level before he landed so the aircraft undercarriage took all the impact."

The pilot suffered a cut nose and bruised back and was in "pretty deep shock".

"And so are all our staff and our club members. He's very much one of the team around here. It's a bit of a rough day for us but nobody is seriously hurt."

Mr Small praised the actions of the pilot saying he witnessed the end of the accident, which happened at low speed, as he was arriving for work.

"I was driving along the street coming into the airport and I just thought this is not going to be a good day for somebody. But the very last little bit of it, he handled superbly well."

He said the pilot had been well trained to cope with such incidents and proved it today.

Mr Small said the club had released hundreds of students to their first solo flights since 1933 and incidents such as this were rare.

"We've had very few issues. There is extensive damage to the aircraft but the main point is the pilot walked away."

He said the two-seat trainer Tecnam, one of the latest generation carbon fibre aircraft built in Italy, was only a year old and the club had never experienced problems with it before.

No-one else was in the plane at the time and there was no-one in the parked Cessna, which was positioned to the side of the airstrip.

It was unclear how much the damage would cost.

Mr Small was unsure how high the Tecnam was when it got into trouble but said the Civil Aviation Authority would now investigate the incident.

The pilot was taken to Waikato Hospital by ambulance as a precaution.

- NZ Herald

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