Pilot, 72, tried to land on dual carriageway after mistaking it for runway


The trainee pilot mistook the road for nearby Newcastle Airport (Picture: Getty/iStockphoto)

A pilot in his 70s managed to confuse a dual carriageway with a nearby airport runway.

The plane almost came down on the A1 close to Newcastle International Airport because of human error.

An investigation found the 72-year-old was carrying out his first solo flight as part of a course teaching would-be pilots to fly at night.

With just 233 hours of experience in the cockpit, the pilot would have been classed as relatively inexperienced. 

He was coming into land when he ‘lost sight of the runway [and] misidentified lights from the nearby A1 dual carriageway’.

The pilot ‘drifted off course’ and started to decrease his altitude as he prepared to land among the traffic below.

He was within a few hundred feet of the road when he realised his mistake and started climbing to safety again.

The pilot had to ascend after his error and take another run at landing at the proper place (Picture: AAIB)

Air traffic control guided his Reims Cessna Light Aircraft to the airport and he eventually landed safely.

The episode has been dubbed a ‘serious incident’ by the Air Accident Investigation Branch.

Despite the near miss, the pilot was allowed to continue flying as part of the course after a ‘debrief’.

The incident happened shortly before 8pm on January 9, 2022.

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