AN OLVESTON pilot had a lucky escape after he was forced to make an emergency landing in Thornbury, yards away from a cluster of homes on Sunday afternoon.
Angus Macaskill and his wife Fiona were on their way back from visiting their daughter in Manchester in their Rans S6 Coyote II plane when the light aircraft's fuel pipe became blocked, causing the engine to fail.
Mr Macaskill, 63, a painter who made headlines when he used his house gates as an art exhibition last summer, immediately sent an emergency signal to air traffic control. He had to make a snap decision, opting to land in the middle of a field off Butt Lane at around 2pm.
Fearing the light aircraft may crash into nearby homes, Avon and Somerset Constabulary dispatched a helicopter to the scene. An ambulance, rapid rescue vehicle and critical care paramedics all flocked to Butt Lane, unsure what they would be faced with on arrival, according to the South Western Ambulance Service.
Thanks to the experienced pilot's quick reflexes, he and his wife escaped unscathed.
"I didn't have much time to choose the field," said Mr Macaskill, who has been a pilot for ten years.
"I was talking to Bristol Air Traffic Control. When you get below 500 or 600 feet you drop off their radar.
"They would not have known whether it was a benign incident or whether I was going to hit a house."
He added: "It's a rare event and we've already found out why it happened. It's a lesson to be learned. Most of pilot training is about emergency drills.
"Happily I was pretty current on all this things. I've done a lot of recent emergency drills."
The ambulance service and police left an hour later, at around 3.15pm.
According to one eyewitness, Jonathan Bailey, of Dyrham Close, police and ambulance cars turned up en masse to Butt Lane as soon as the small plane landed.
"The first that residents were aware was when the police helicopter came in low and landed, followed in short order by quite a few police cars and paramedic vehicles," Mr Bailey said.
"The pilot made a silent controlled-landing.
"He had probably issued a mayday distress call as he descended, hence the massive response as no-one would have known whether he would hit the houses."
The Rans's fuel pipe was repaired on Tuesday morning and the plane is now back in its hangar.