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Sunlight caused octogenarian pilot's Alderney plane crash

Sunlight caused octogenarian pilot's Alderney plane crash

Tuesday 14 February 2023

Sunlight caused octogenarian pilot's Alderney plane crash

Tuesday 14 February 2023

An octogenarian pilot took out some of the lights on Alderney's runway after being blinded by the sun as he tried to land his plane, according to an air safety investigation report.

The crash landing on 9 September 2022 happened shortly after 16:30.

The pilot had taken off from Guernsey in the 1989 Beech F33A, G-MOAC with two passengers on board.

alderney plane crash

Pictured: The plane was 33 years old when the accident happened on 9 September 2022.

The short flight to Alderney was uneventful, but the landing was made difficult when the pilot lost sight of the runway due to the glare from the sun.

He had reported that "the visibility was good with no low cloud and that the runway was clearly visible from the downwind leg" but as he neared Alderney he recalled "...there was some glare from the low evening sun" which significantly reduced his vision.

He told the Air Accident Investigation Branch that he could see the approach lights and so knew the runway lights were on but he did not recall seeing the Abbreviated Precision approach Path Indicator lights.

He continued his approach expecting the runway edge and threshold lights to become visible but instead, the glare continued to reduce his visibility. As the aircraft descended below the glidepath it struck the last three approach lights and a threshold light with both wings and the propellor causing extensive damage to both the plane and the lights.

None of the three people on board were injured.

alderney plane crash

Pictured: The plane hit the lights as it came in to land.

In hindsight, the pilot told the AAIB that scratches on the windscreen of the 33-year old aircraft may have exacerbated the effect of the sun on his vision.

The AAIB published its report on the accident last week, concluding that "the sun was low in the sky and aligned with the runway, and the glare of the sun, exacerbated by micro scratches on the aircraft windshield, caused the pilot to lose sight of the runway".

The AAIB said that "the pilot lost visual references and descended below the glidepath on final approach due to the glare of the sun on a scratched windshield. The aircraft struck the last three approach lighting masts and a threshold light, suffering extensive damage."

alderney plane crash

Pictured: The planes wings were damaged as were its fuel tanks, along with the runway lights.

The report also stated that the aircraft's fuel tanks were ruptured when it collided with the lights, spilling fuel on to the grass next to the lights and the runway surface. 

It also stated that Air Traffic Control at Alderney were not immediately aware of the accident but the alarm was raised when the aircraft left the runway and the pilot had stopped responding to ATC calls.

The airport's fire fighters were alerted and they met the plane on the grass where they found each of the occupants had safely disembarked, suffering no injuries.


Former RAF fighter pilot Duncan Laisney recently opened up about the experience of ditching his plane into the sea last November after it lost power on a recent episode of the Bailiwick Podcast. Despite an investigation by the AAIB, the source of the power failure remains a mystery.

Listen below to the interview or on your favourite podcast provider...

Pictured top: The plane was extensively damaged but no one was injured. 

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