Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Tragic pilot avoids party kids

A pilot was killed instantly when his gyrocopter burst into flames after passing low over a school roof and crashing in a nearby field

A pilot has avoided potential disaster by steering his gyrocopter away from a nursery school celebrating the royal wedding.

On Thursday 39 youngsters were throwing a party at The Griffin School, north of Salisbury, Wiltshire, when the low-flying aircraft came over.

The unnamed pilot was killed instantly as the small helicopter burst into flames after passing low over the school roof and crashing into a nearby field.

The children, aged between two and four, were distracted from their celebrations and street-party-style buffet by the noise of the aircraft.

Headteacher Christine Hind, 57, said the pupils were enjoying their party when the accident happened.

"We didn't actually see the crash," Mrs Hind said. "We were celebrating the royal wedding and we were having our celebration in the conservatory at the school.

"The gyrocopter went over the top of the school very low. We didn't realise it was in any difficulty. It did crash quite a way from us over the brow of the hill. It could have been a different story if it had been a little earlier."

The light aircraft crashed in a field near Old Sarum Airfield and burst into flames on landing in a field off Hilltop Way in Bishopdown at around 12.30pm, setting fire to 100 square metres of grass.

A Wiltshire Fire Service spokesman said: "A fire engine and an emergency support unit from Salisbury went to the scene, to find the gyrocopter well alight and the male pilot dead. Firefighters have been assisting Wiltshire Police in the search for debris."

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said it had sent an investigator to the scene.

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