A Lincolnshire pilot had a miracle escape and was left 2cms shorter after the vintage fighter plane he was flying crash-landed in a field and slammed into a tree at 130mph.
Dave Unwin, who lives with his family in Grimsthorpe, near Bourne, was in the cockpit of a 1951 Hawker Sea Fury with fellow pilot Eskil Amdal when disaster struck on Tuesday, August 4.
The pair had taken off from Duxford airfield in Cambridgeshire that afternoon and had performed a string of rolls, loops and turns for a magazine feature.
But then the engine suddenly cut out leaving the pair plummeting towards the ground in the 69-year-old aircraft.
As the main pilot on the day, Eskil took control while Dave looked for a field for them to land in.
With no landing gear down, the Sea Fury – named ‘Invincible’ – plummeted out of the sky at 150mph.
It then raced across a field and smashed into a tree around five miles from Duxford.
Amazingly, both pilots survived with no major injuries.
Dave, 59, suffered three spinal fractures and a broken rib, as well as a “brilliant” array of cuts and bruises.
The father-of-two spent two days at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge before being allowed to return home. Eskil has also been discharged.
Stephen Bridgewater sent me some great pics just before we took off on the accident flight; this one shows just how big a Sea Fury is! Such a shame it got broken, but very grateful
Eskil Amdal and I got away with it. pic.twitter.com/S6fmMFxRaX
— Dave Unwin (@dave_unwin) August 10, 2020
Dave, who has been flying for 35 years, said: “We should be dead; there’s no doubt in my mind, knowing what I do about flying and this particular aeroplane.”
There is an investigation currently underway into the cause of the fault with the Sea Fury.
The single-seater was a fighter-bomber that saw action in Korea with the Royal Navy. ‘Invincible’ – the plane flown by Eskil and Dave – is a two-seater, and was used for weapons training.
Dave added: “I’m also 2cm shorter than I was last Monday! I was 172cm and now I’m 170cm. I was wanting to lose some weight but now I’ve got to add some height as well!”