Lucky escape for pilot and co-pilot

front-pages-fairoaks-plane-crashTwo men had a lucky escape when the light aircraft they were flying crash landed near Fairoaks Airport.

The pilot was 79-year-old inventor and philanthropist Dr John C Taylor OBE, who suffered a broken arm when he brought his newly built, single-engined plane down in a field between the Chobham aerodrome and the Ottershaw Park mansion and estate. His co-pilot escaped with a minor abrasion to his head.  Both were taken by South East Coast Ambulance Service to St Peter’s Hospital, Chertsey.

Dr Taylor had decided to make an emergency landing after the plane discharged a loud noise as he approached Fairoaks at about 8.30am at the end of a flight from the Isle of Man.

His Socata TBM700N (TBM-900) turboprop hit a small metal fence, narrowly missing a row of trees, about 100 yards short of the runway on the field, owned by Fairoaks.  The plane was a write-off.

The aiport’s emergency crew were first on the scene and laid a carpet of foam over the aircraft to prevent the risk of leaking fuel catching fire. Appliances from Woking, Chertsey and Camberley Surrey Fire & Rescue Service attended the crash scene, along with an environmental protection unit from Dorking.

A Surrey Fire & Rescue Service spokesman said: “Fortunately, the plane did not catch fire. However, there was a serious concern about fuel spillage and this was dealt with appropriately by our team.”

Dr Taylor, who was made an OBE in 2011 and now lives on the Isle of Man, is one of the world’s most prolific inventors. He devised a thermostat widely used in electric kettles and other household appliances, and invented the Chronophage sculptural clock.  Dr Taylor retired from business in 1999 and has since given millions of pounds to educational institutions to encourage the next generation of inventors.

He has been a pilot for more than 60 years and owns a number of private planes. It is not yet known what caused the sudden noise that alarmed Dr Taylor or if there was a malfunction, but the incident is being investigated by the Air Accident Investigations Branch.

A spokesman said: “Dr Taylor would like to thank the South East Coast Ambulance Service, Surrey Police and Surrey Fire & Rescue for their support and assistance.”

There have now been four such incidences involving the aircraft type dating back to September 2014.

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