A PILOT from Haydon had a lucky escape after his plane lost power seconds after take-off.

Aviation enthusiast Stephen Lewis was ready for a routine flight but experienced an unexplained loss of power immediately after the plane lifted off the ground.

After bumping back down to earth, the 62-year-old braked and turned sharply to avoid the stone wall around the airstrip.

This caused the propeller to hit the ground, then the engine stopped and the aircraft tipped over.

He escaped unharmed by opening the side doors and stepping onto the wing.

His red and white 1946 Luscombe 8E Silvair Deluxe was so badly damaged that it had to be written off.

Stephen said: “If I’d hit the wall at the end of the airstrip, I wouldn’t be here today.

“When something like this happens, you have to act as quickly as you can.

“It happened so fast I didn’t feel much at all, I slammed on the brakes and next thing I knew, I was upside-down, I didn’t have much time to think.

“It’s a high-wing plane and the doors are underneath the wing so when it overturned, I could just open the door and climb out.”

Stephen has been flying for 17 years, has more than 300 hours of flying experience under his belt and owned the Luscombe for 13 years.

He flies regularly from Lower Upham airfield near Chiseldon, often with a family member in the passenger seat.

This accident happened at the Porth Towan airstrip in Cornwall on July 8.

Stephen said: “She was my little baby and she was a sturdy old thing, I was sad to say goodbye to her.

“I’d made all the routine checks beforehand and everything seemed normal, she just didn’t want to fly.

“She went a few inches off the ground then lost power and nobody knows how, it’s just one of those things.

“There could have been any number of reasons for it but we’ll never know, it was a write-off and it will never fly again.

“I’ve always been into aircraft, flying models until I could afford to fly the real thing.”

The report from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch said: “After completing his normal pre-takeoff checks for this high-wing, tailwheel-fitted aircraft, the pilot commenced take-off from a 500m grass runway.

“No difficulty was encountered until immediately after the aircraft had become airborne, when a partial loss of engine power was experienced.

"The cause of the partial power loss has so far not been determined.”

Stephen’s now looking forward to flying his new plane, a low-wing Jodel which he hopes to fly every other weekend.