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Newmarket glider crash: Pilot Gerrard Dale describes collision

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Media captionGerrard Dale said his first thought was: "I'm not going to die after all"

A glider pilot who parachuted to the ground and was knocked out after a mid-air collision in Suffolk said the crash had been an "intense experience".

Gerrard Dale, 53, a member of a club at Alton in Hampshire, was taking part in a gliding competition when the crash happened near Newmarket on Monday.

He was treated in hospital for bumps and bruises, while his glider crashed into a tree.

The other pilot involved landed his glider and was unhurt.

About 50 aircraft were taking part in the 2012 British Club Class Gliding National Championships, held by the Cambridge Gliding Centre at Little Gransden near St Neots.

Mr Dale, who is a member of Lasham Gliding Society, hit his head on landing and was unconscious for 10 minutes.

Falling nose-first

Speaking the next day, he said: "I'm slightly battered, bruised and a bit dishevelled, but I'm all right.

"I remember stabilising the glider after the aircraft touched and thinking I could maybe fly away, but then the thing went right out of control."

Mr Dale said he had got rid of the canopy and his straps and was thrown out of the glider which was falling nose-first.

"I looked down to my left and I could see the glider upside down and quite close, but then I realised it was falling faster than I was.

"I saw the woods and the railway line and the main road, so I had to learn to fly the 'chute pretty quickly.

Image caption Mr Dale said the damage to his glider was "deeply irritating"

"Apparently when I was lying in the field some member of the public turned me over and put me in the recovery position, which might have saved my life because I was coughing and choking."

Mr Dale said he had since met the other pilot, who wants to remain anonymous.

"We don't actually know how we came to come together, but I do remember looking out and seeing another glider really close and thinking 'how did I do that?'.

"We've both got flight files, because we're scored with a GPS satellite observation system, and that should give us the details of how we came together."

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch and the British Gliding Association are investigating the collision.

Mr Dale said: "I'm really annoyed because I did a lot of work on that aircraft, and seeing it hanging in the tree is deeply irritating.

"So I've got to get it down and send it to the repairers now."

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