LANDING GEAR failure is thought to be the cause of a crash landing by a small aircraft on the EN125 close to Lagos Aerodrome on Sunday afternoon, which left the 67-year-old pilot with serious injuries.
José Horta suffered a fractured skull and spinal injuries but no-one else was hurt, despite the plane landing on a main road.
The incident is now being investigated by the Instituto Nacional de Aviação Civil, the national civil aviation authority.
José Horta, an experienced pilot and member of the Aero Clube de Lagos, was flying a YAK-52, a small Russian plane weighing around 900 kilos and approached Lagos Aerodrome at around 4.45pm to land.
After the landing gear appeared to fail, the plane’s propeller scraped the runway and the pilot then attempted to bring the plane up to turn around and try again.
Due to the difficulty in manoeuvring the aircraft, he was forced to land the plane on the EN125, just 100 metres from the Aerodrome.
The plane came to a halt in the right hand lane of the main road, in the direction of Portimão, not far from the BP petrol station. The plane missed a vehicle that had been travelling on that side of the road, landing a little way in front.
The emergency services were at the scene within minutes, with 15 bombeiros in four vehicles from Lagos attending the scene. The pilot was rescued from the burning wreckage and rushed to Barlavento Hospital in Portimão. There was serious damage to the plane, although the cockpit remained intact.
Traffic was stopped in both directions for three hours as the plane and debris was cleared from the road.
Luís Duarte, President of Aero Clube de Lagos, told The Resident: “We don’t know the full details yet. The accident is being investigated, however, it does appear that the landing gear failed. The wheels would not come down and the propeller touched the runway.
“What I believe is that he tried to turn the plane around to land again, but then had to come down on the EN125. Only the pilot was injured, no cars were hit and no-one else was affected by the accident.”
He added: “José Horta is an experienced pilot and was flying his usual plane, a YAK-52. Even though this model was the one used to train pilots in the Second World War, it is still being manufactured today.”
When asked about the condition of the pilot he said: “He is not too bad, it is expected that he will make a recovery within one month. He suffered a fractured skull and has some damage to his back. With the force of the landing, his head was thrown against the plane’s controls.”
The plane. He said, was damaged, but it can be re-constructed without a problem.
“This was a rare incident,” he added, “it is not usual to see an accident like this,” he concluded.