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UK Pilot's Amazing Escape As Stunt Glider Crashes Into Runway

Glider pilot Mike Newman, 35, had the scariest moment of his life when his stunt glider slammed into a runway in front of 15,000 horrified fans at an airshow in Shoreham, West Sussex, UK on
PTI September 15, 2010 13:14 IST
PTI
Glider pilot Mike Newman, 35, had the scariest moment of his life when his stunt glider slammed into a runway in front of 15,000 horrified fans at an airshow in Shoreham, West Sussex, UK on August 23.

Amazingly the pilot crawled out of the wreckage of the high performance Swift S-1 aircraft after the cockpit broke up on impact.  

The former racing driver suffered three broken vertebrae in the accident, but doctors expect him to make a full recovery, reports The Daily Mail.



Newman crashed while performing for the Swift Aerobatic Display Team at the Royal Air Forces Association airshow.

Amateur photographer Rob Yuill, 62, of Hornchurch, Essex, who took the amazing sequence of pictures, said: 'He had a very lucky escape indeed.'

'The glider was supposed to perform an aerobatic display with two powered aircraft - but it was a very overcast day with low cloud.'  

'The gilder only performed for a couple of minutes before being released from its tow line. Then it flew downwind and turned to make its final approach to land.'



'As he turned, I realised the glider was at the wrong angle as its nose went down. He had lost air speed and headed straight into the ground.'

'It was not far off vertical when it hit the runway. The nose section just crumpled. It was an awful thing to see.'  

'There was an silence from the crowd as people took in what had happened around 400 ft in front of them.'  

'I felt a real sense of relief when the pilot crawled away. I had feared the worst because it was such an awful crash.'



'Two ambulances and a couple of fire engines were on the scene very quickly and he was taken away on a stretcher.'   

Newman who was the UK unlimited aerobatic gliding champion in 2008 and 2009 was taken to Worthing Hospital after the accident, which took place on August 23.  

He has since been transferred to a hospital closer to his home in Egham, Surrey, and is said to be "'on the mend'.  

Newman, an operations manager for an automatic door manufacturer, is having to lie on his back for the next three weeks to help his spine heal naturally.



Swift Aerobatic Display team spokesman Guy Westgate said: 'Mike is in good spirits and the whole team wish him a speedy recovery.'  

Newman, a gliding instructor and aerobatic coach, has been flying since 1996. The Air Accidents Investigation Branch and the British Gliding Association have begun an investigation into the crash.  

Air show organiser Don Bean said: 'We are very sorry about the pilot being hurt - but it is fortunate the accident was not much more serious.'







Amateur photographer Rob Yuill, who was at the Royal Air Forces Association airshow at Shoreham, West Sussex, said: "There was a silence from the crowd as people took in what had happened around 400ft in front of them.

"I felt a real sense of relief when the pilot crawled away. I had feared the worst because it was such an awful crash. The 62-year-old, from Hornchurch, Essex, added: "He had a very lucky escape indeed."