Freak 'mini tornado' sweeps microlight across Lincolnshire airfield
A FREAK "mini tornado" hurled a tiny microlight across an airfield in Lincolnshire – and nearly took the pilot with it.
The incident at North Coates Airfield has been revealed in a newly-published Air Accident Investigation Branch report.
The 20ft high tornado swept across the field while 67-year-old Philip Glover was preparing for take-off.
The report told how there was a "freshening" five to six knot wind at the time, as Mr Glover – a pilot of 248 hours of flying experience at the time – carried out checks after starting the engine.
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But a large, dark cloud was passing close by, so Mr Glover decided the conditions were not suitable for flying, and made to shut down the engine.
Before he could do so, a large gust of wind propelled the aircraft across the airfield apron. Mr Glover tried to hang on to it but had to let go when he was also lifted off the ground.
The pilot escaped uninjured but his 1996-built Bantam microlight suffered extensive damage during the incident, which happened at about noon on July 28.
The report stated: "The gust of wind which overturned the aircraft was seen to move up the taxiway and across open fields towards the sea.
"It had a rotating appearance, as of a small tornado, and extended from the ground to an estimated height of 20ft."
North Coates Airfield is popular among microlight pilots, and often hosts open days for the public.
Mr Glover, of North Cotes, declined to comment.
A spokesman for North Coates Flying Club, Mike Speakman, said: "It was the first whirlwind we have had at North Coates, although they do happen around the country.
"It took everyone by surprise.
"It was a strange day. It was calm and then the wind picked up by more than three-fold and this little 'dust devil' came from around the hanger and went across the airfield turned the microlight over and headed out to sea."
He added: "We are a little wary of leaving the little planes out on the airfield now. There were some bigger planes which took a battering as well."
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