A STUDENT pilot was left trapped in an aircraft after he crashed during take-off at a Herefordshire airfield, an investigation has found.

A report published by the Air Accident Investigation Branch said the student, along with a 70-year-old instructor, were both trapped in the gyroplane as it rolled at Shobdon Airfield.

The report said that during an aborted take-off, due to the rotor speed not increasing, the student pilot pulled the throttle and stick back.

This caused the gyroplane to abruptly pitch up and roll to the left.

The aircraft fell onto its side and slid to a stop during the training flight for the student who was on a gyroplane private pilot's licence course.

The student and instructor were trapped and could smell fuel, the report said, but airfield staff were on the scene quickly and were able to right the gyroplane and get the occupants out.


The student pilot and instructor were both trapped, but airfield staff righted the gyrocopter

The student pilot and instructor were both trapped, but airfield staff righted the gyrocopter


The instructor was uninjured, but the student had chest pains and later discovered he had broken a bone in his back.

The student, who already held a fixed-wing licence, had completed 17 hours of the course and was said to be progressing well.

The objective of the flight was to finesse the student’s landing technique.

The instructor, who was occupying the rear seat, and the student planned to fly several circuits at Shobdon.

The first few circuits were planned to end with low passes along the runway.

They planned to follow these with some landing practice, each landing coming to a full stop before commencing another take-off.

In comments to air investigators, the student said he was tired after a long day and that was "probably why he did not complete his normal checks leading to the incorrect stick position on the take-off roll".

With hindsight, the instructor felt he should have taken control and aborted the take-off himself rather than instructing the student to abort.

However, at the time, he wanted to give the student the opportunity to correct the mistake himself to maximise his learning. 

Investigators said the accident, at 12.51pm on March 18, showed how challenging it can be for instructors to know when and how to intervene effectively, a balance between learning and safety.