Student pilot crashed in field after confusing airstrips

Upturned Cessna ‘significantly damaged’ in Co Meath crash

Cessna crash: the aircraft, which took off from Weston Aiport, in Co Dublin, overturned after landing in Co Meath

Cessna crash: the aircraft, which took off from Weston Aiport, in Co Dublin, overturned after landing in Co Meath

 

A student pilot crashed her aircraft into a field in Co Meath after wrongly identifying a small grass airstrip as Trim Airfield, an investigation has concluded.

The student, a 48-year-old woman, had 70 hours’ flying experience before the crash, on March 31st this year, all of them in the two-seat Cessna FA152 she was flying that day.

The pilot had set out from Weston Airport, in west Co Dublin, on a round trip to Kinnegad, about 45km away, in Co Westmeath, but encountered bad weather. She changed course for Trim Airfield but accidentally aimed for a private landing strip, several kilometres to the south, in nearby Adamstown, that was a third shorter than anything she had landed on before.

Strong winds required the pilot to make three approaches; she made her final attempt as bad weather closed in, crashing in crops towards the top of the field. The aircraft’s propeller, wings, rudder, tail fin and fuselage were all significantly damaged, and the pilot hurt her shoulder as she tried to escape from the plane, which had turned over when its front wheel dug into soft ground.

The Air Accident Investigation Unit said that the weather had been good enough for the pilot to take off from Weston and that she had been right to try to avoid the bad weather she encountered. It added that her mistaking the Adamstown landing strip for Trim Airfield was understandable and recommended that the National Flight Centre, the flying school at Weston Airport, consider adding diversion exercises to its training syllabus.

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