A TRAINEE pilot escaped serious injury when his microlight crashed into trees and burst into flames.
Paul Carvell was due to be having a flying lesson at Eshott Airfield on Saturday afternoon.
But when he started the engine the aircraft shot off, and looked to be heading towards a container.
He jumped out before it took off. The microlight did a loop-the-loop and crashed into trees at the airfield.
Police cordoned off the area while two fire crews from Pegswood tackled the blaze.
Mr Carvell was taken to hospital with injuries to his leg.
Onlookers were shocked to see the accident unfold, and were unsure whether the pilot had managed to free himself from the aircraft before it crashed.
One eyewitness, who phoned the emergency services, said: “We were just happy that no one was killed and that it landed on the airfield as opposed to the houses or the A1.
“It was all rather scary at the time as no one realised that the pilot had managed to get out.
“We thought it would be fatal.”
The accident happened at around 1.10pm close to the runway.
Trees in which the microlight landed were completely destroyed in the crash.
The Air Accident Investigation Branch has been notified by Northumbria Police and a full investigation will take place.