A fox on the runway has been blamed in an official report for an incident in which a light aircraft out of Exeter was seriously damaged as it came in to land at Dunkeswell, east Devon
As the 2001 built two seater Jabiru – reg G BZST - owned by David and Leslie Rhys of Bovey Tracey, approached the runway the pilot and passenger spotted a fox on the runway.
And that was the point where things started to go wrong.
The aircraft, which had been flown from Exeter landed heavily. However, the 64-year-old pilot who had 999 hours flying experience continued to taxi to a parking area not realising the landing gear had been damaged.
When he braked though the nose dipped, the propeller hit the ground and the engine stopped damaging the engine and the propeller.
A newly published Air Accident Investigation Branch report into the incident says that the pilot told investigators that he and his passenger had noticed a fox crossing the runway ahead of them, something which was not unusual for the airfield.
But the report continues : “However, the distraction caused him to round out too high and at too low an airspeed. The aircraft dropped heavily onto the runway.”
It says that initially the pilot believed it had not been damaged but after the incident when he braked it was discovered that nose landing gear suspension rubber bushes had burst and some were missing completely.
The propeller had lost 6 to 7 mm from the end of its tips and had been split along its length. The engine had also been shock loaded.