Skilled pilot landed plane one-handed at Taghmon
A 73-year-old pilot, who demonstrated good flying skills, managed to land his 'amateur-built' plane one-handed after hanging onto the cockpit canopy when it opened during flight after taking off from Taghmon.
The pilot escaped unscathed, but the aircraft was substantially damaged during the forced landing at the Irish Light Aviation Society Airfield at Taghmon on June 9.
An Air Accident Investigation Unit report noted the pilot's evidence that he had carried out pre-flight checks, including a 'canopy locked check' before a normal take-off shortly before midday, in good flying conditions.
But at 91 metres, the canopy of the aircraft unexpectedly opened.
The pilot, who was not named, was able to pull the canopy closed. but could not lock it shut.
This meant he had to 'to exert sustained manual pressure' while continuing to fly the aircraft one-handed.
In order to land as quickly as possible he climbed to 305 metres and completed a standard circuit for Runway 18 at the airfield.
'With only one hand available to operate the stick and throttle, control of the aircraft was difficult.'
The report said a subsequent loss of airspeed resulted in a hard landing which caused the left wheel to become detached from the aircraft. About seven metres after the aircraft first made contact with the runway the propeller hit the ground, breaking both blades. The aircraft then swivelled an anti-clockwise direction before coming to rest. The air accident report noted damage to right wheel shock absorber and that the left wing was cracked.
The report said the pilot 'demonstrated good flying skills maintaining steady flight and positioning for landing' and that the unexpected opening of a cockpit canopy in flight can result in the loss of an aircraft due to what it termed the 'startle effect'. The plane EI-EWZ was a Colibri MB-2, a single seat, sports aircraft, powered by a Volkswagen engine.
It had an all wooden framework with plywood fuselage and fabric covered wings. It was amateur built by the pilot from plans provided by Colibri and was first flown on the July 26, 2012. At the time of the incident the aircraft had an IAA Permit to Fly issued on February 1, 2017, which was valid until January 31, next year.