A BLACKPOOL pilot had a miraculous escape from this twisted wreckage after his aeroplane crashed on a hillside.
Rescuers today said the 55-year-old and his 31-year-old passenger were “lucky to be alive” after the Cessna aircraft crashed in poor visibility on moorland in North Yorkshire.
Both freed themselves from the aircraft with just minor injuries after the catastrophic crash which saw them rescued close to the summit of Ingleborough, the second highest peak in the Yorkshire Dales.
Cumbria Police received a 999 call from the pilot at 8.35pm on Monday saying his plane had crashed but he was unsure of his whereabouts.
A 36 strong mountain rescue team and ground crews from nearby Kendal launched a major search for the men.
Rescue duty controller Tom Redfern told The Gazette: “The wreckage of the plane is horrific, it’s totally mangled, I have no idea how they got out of the cockpit.
“They are extremely lucky to be alive.
“The two men were up there three or four hours before they were rescued and were very cold as they weren’t dressed for being up a mountain.”
The men were discovered at 12.15am and told rescuers they got lost flying around in poor visibility.
Both were rushed to Lancaster Royal Infirmary where the passenger, a Blackburn man, was treated for a broken nose and ankle.
Mr Redfern added: “One of the men was deteriorating as we evacuated him from the plane and there were potentially four broken ankles, chest and facial injuries.
“It looked like the craft had flown straight into the side of the steep slope just below the summit.
“They appear to have got lost in clouds and crashed.”
The aircraft, which is believed to have been from Westair Flying Services based at Blackpool Airport, set off on a pleasure flight from the Squires Gate Lane hub at 7.18pm.
It had flown towards Kirkby Lonsdale in Cumbria via Clitheroe but got into difficulties because of thick cloud.
Blackpool Airport spokeswoman Sue Kendrick said: “The plane left Blackpool at 19.18 on Monday.
“It was booked out for 100 minutes so we were expecting it back before the airport closed at 9pm.
“We received a phone call from the pilot to say he had been involved in a crash and that search and rescue had been sent out to find them.”
The cause of the crash is now being investigated.
A spokesman for North Yorkshire Police said: “We were informed a Cessna light aircraft had made a forced landing between Wham and Rathmell.
“The Civil Aviation Authority and Air Accident Investigation Branch have been informed of the incident.”
A spokeswoman from the The Air Accidents Investigation Branch added: “We will be investigating this and writing to the pilot in due course.”