Monday, March 14, 2016

Maule MX-7-180, N280SA: Pilot who sparked plane crash alert over Lake District by skimming aircraft on Ullswater walks free from court

A SCOTS pilot whose antics sparked a plane crash scare has walked free from court after a judge ruled he had done nothing wrong.

Peter Jackson’s single propeller light aircraft – a Maule MX-7-180 – had twice circled Ullswater in Cumbria and descended to skim the lake’s surface.

The stunt was captured by amazed onlookers who posted the footage to YouTube.

The sound-track has children squealing in concern and a man saying: “He didn’t crash the first time, so he’s going to do it again.”

Cumbria Police and Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team were called out last Easter Thursday afternoon after initially getting reports - later discounted - that a plane had crashed in the lake. They were stood down when the facts emerged.

The Civil Aviation Authority investigated the incident and tracked down the pilot, who had no idea of the fuss he had caused, through concerned onlookers’ photographs.

Gun dealer and farmer Peter Hume Jackson, 62, faced two charges of being reckless and negligent in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft and any person on board, when he appeared before South Lakeland Magistrates in Kendal yesterday.

Mr Jackson, of Glenswinton Farm, Parton, Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway , Scotland denied the two charges brought by the Civil Aviation Authority under the Civil Aviation Act of 1982.

Christian Grammer, operations manager for Ullswater Steamers said he had just disembarked at Pooley Bridge pier, when he watched the plane twice fly by then descend to skim the lake.

“I ran back to base to raise the alert as I thought there was going to be a rescue,” he said.

He said it was a fine day and the lake was popular with sailors, speed boats, wind-surfers, anglers and swimmers.

Motorist Katherine Wilkinson was driving past the lake when she saw the light aircraft.

“It looked as though it was going to land in the water. I saw it had wheels instead of floats and I became alarmed that there must be something wrong,” said her statement.

But Stephen Spence, for Mr Jackson, said he had been practicing a manoeuvre known as hydro-planing, which was commonly used by bush flyers in America and Canada.

It enabled planes to slow down before landing on the shore. The plane had wide, lowly inflated tires which were designed for marsh or rough terrain landing.

The technique of hydro-planing was recommended by the manufacturers of the Maule. There was no danger to the public or the plane.

District Judge Gerald Chalk dismissed the case, saying: “I am not satisfied that there is any evidence that this aircraft was in any danger.”

He ordered all defense costs to be paid by the CAA, as well as their own.

After the case Mr Jackson said he thought the CAA had been determined to pin something on him because of the over-reaction by the police.

He said airplanes often acted in ways that the people hadn’t seen before and they shouldn’t necessarily dial 999 otherwise the police are obliged to investigate.

Mr Jackson who sells rifles from his farm is an experienced mountain flyer who was once commended by the Federal Aviation Authority for his expertise.

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