Tue, Oct 04, 2005
Injured Pilot Brings Down Burning Plane -- Safely
An Australian pilot in a burning cropduster managed to bring his
bird down safely, in spite of heavy smoke and fire inside the
Fred Clipperton, the 69-year old pilot, suffered burns in the
process of landing his aircraft, after hearing an explosion and
seeing his wing on fire at an altitude of about 100-feet, according
to news reports from down under.
"He has to be a good pilot otherwise
he'd be dead," fellow cropduster Nigel Wettenhall told The Age
newspaper Tuesday. "He's a guy that's spent 30,000 odd hours flying
fairly close to the ground."
It happened near the Australian town of Moama near the border
between New South Wales and Victoria on Monday. Clipperton, from
the town of Deniliquin, had just refueled for his final spraying
mission of the day when he heard the explosion on his right wing.
Smoke and fire filled the cockpit, but Clipperton was determined to
land his plane.
Fire crews were on the field at the airport in Bunnaloo when the
crippled cropduster landed. Clipperton was extracted from the
burning plane as the flames were being doused and then rushed to
Deniliquin Hospital. He's now listed in satisfactory condition.
Fire officials on the scene said it appeared the wing tank's
fuel cap hadn't been properly secure, leading to the fire.
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