Two cheat death as light plane crashes near 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.