Piper PA-28-161 Cherokee Warrior II, G-EDGA
The aircraft had completed an uneventful transit from Coventry Airport to RAF Halton, Buckinghamshire. The weather conditions at Halton were described as bumpy, with thunderstorms in the area and “gusty” wind conditions - the forecast was for a surface wind of 180°/15 gusting 25 kt. The pilot positioned his aircraft for a flapless landing on grass Runway 20, with the windsock showing a strong wind straight down the runway. As the aircraft approached trees on final approach it was “swatted violently downwards and left”, the left wing dropped and made contact with the trees. The pilot levelled the wings and noticed, from the windsock, that the wind had veered significantly, almost 90º. He turned towards the wind and landed across the runway, stopping in the long grass beyond the side of the strip. The aircraft was taxied back to the apron and shut down normally. A subsequent inspection revealed damage to the left wing. The pilot considered that the accident was caused by a sudden and violent change in the wind direction, perhaps caused by a nearby thunderstorm to the north.
Date of occurrence: 6 July 2011