Two cheat death as light plane crashes near Oban

The Oban Times - - Front Page - LOUISE GLEN lglen@oban­

TWO GER­MAN pilots es­caped near- cer­tain death when their light air­craft crashed into a hill­side near the edge of Loch Linnhe and only min­utes from the vil­lage of Ben­der­loch, where hun­dreds of peo­ple live.

The pilots were part of a larger group of eight air­craft which make an an­nual trip to the west coast of Scot­land and are un­der­stood to have known the area ‘fairly’ well.

Af­ter a may­day call from a pass­ing yachts­man who saw the plane in dif­fi­culty, a search and res­cue op­er­a­tion got un­der way. Emer­gency ser­vices quickly lo­cated the plane - a Breezer B600 - and helped the pilots.

A man was taken by air am­bu­lance to Queen El­iz­a­beth Univer­sity Hospi­tal in Glas­gow with se­ri­ous leg in­juries and a woman was taken to the Royal Alexan­dra Hospi­tal in Pais­ley with chest in­juries.

Their in­juries are not be­lieved to be life-threat­en­ing.

Emer­gency ser­vices at­tended the scene and have made the crash site se­cure.

A joint in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­tween Po­lice Scot­land and the Air Ac­ci­dent In­ves­ti­ga­tion Branch is on­go­ing to es­tab­lish the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the crash. One of the Ger­man group, who did not want to be named, said: ‘I am glad our friends are re­cov­er­ing well. This could have been a ter­ri­ble dis­as­ter and it was down to the good train­ing of our pilots that it ended this way. We would like to thank ev­ery­one for their sup­port.’ The air­craft crashed onto a field by the edge of cliffs on the Lochnell penin­sula at Fion­nard near Lochnell House at 10.45am on Tues­day. It is be­lieved the pilots ac­ti­vated a para­chute on the plane to slow it down prior to mak­ing a crash land­ing.

The ve­loc­ity of the air­craft was such that it rolled over on the ground com­ing to a full stand­still with the pilots aboard. Wit­nesses at the scene said the duo sur­vived the crash, call­ing it ‘a mir­a­cle’.

The craft had taken off from Mull and was mak­ing its way to­wards Oban Air­port, be­fore head­ing to Barra.

Eye­wit­nesses said it looked as though the air­craft had got into dif­fi­cul­ties over Loch Linnhe and the pilots had launched their own para­chute, slow­ing the plane down and bring­ing the air­craft to a slow stop. Seven other air­craft in the fleet made their way to Oban Air­port, where the Ger­man pilots were in­ter­viewed by po­lice of­fi­cers be­fore spend­ing the night in the area.

Elaine Buchanan, who lives on the neigh­bour­ing croft, said she hoped ev­ery­one in­volved in the in­ci­dent will re­cover. She said the first she knew of the in­ci­dent was when the emer- gency ser­vices and he­li­copters started com­ing down her ru­ral sin­gle-track road.

Eye­wit­ness Wil­liam Bar­net, who lives near Ben­der­loch, said he won­dered if ‘Argyll was un­der at­tack’ when am­bu­lances, po­lice cars, fire en­gines and other emer­gency ser­vices ve­hi­cles be­gan to race along the quiet ru­ral road right out­side his home. ‘One minute I was on the beach and there was per­fect si­lence. I walked up to the road­side and all hell was break­ing loose. I am glad to hear ev­ery­one is safe. Only a few more yards and there could have been nu­mer­ous fa­tal­i­ties.’

The an­nual trip to the west coast by the Ger­man group pre­vi­ously caused con­tro­versy in 2010 when they landed on The White Stand of the Monks near Iona, a des­ig­nated site for the breed­ing of corn­crakes.

The wrecked air­craft lies up­side down at Lochnell but the oth­ers with which it was fly­ing made it safely to Oban Air­port.

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