A pilot steered his plane away from Huddersfield golfers before crashing.

Eye-witnesses to the drama at Crosland Heath Golf Club said it appeared the vintage biplane was about to crash on the fifth green, where golfers were playing.

But at the last second it veered away and crash-landed on land close to the 16th fairway.

Golfers rushed to help the pilot, a man in his 50s, who was able to climb out of the cockpit unaided.

The vintage double-winged plane is a regular sight at nearby Crosland Moor Airfield and has been nicknamed The Red Baron, after the German World War 1 ace pilot Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen.

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It is thought the plane had taken off from the airfield at about 2pm but came down soon after on the golf course.

The accident is now being investigated by the Air Accident Investigation Branch.

Ambulance crews and a doctor were called to the course and helped the injured pilot, who was taken to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.

Insp Simon Brooksbank, of West Yorkshire Police, said: “We got a call about the crash and went to the golf course.

Video thumbnail, Plane crash at Crosland Moor
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“The aircraft was virtually intact but the pilot complained of back injuries. It is now the subject of an Air Investigation inquiry.”

Golfer, Linda Whitwam, who witnessed the dramatic crash, said: “We were putting on the 17th when the plane came over.

“It was really low and the engine was really erratic.I noticed the engine sound change, it seemed really bad.

“A friend saw it take off and she said it never really gained height properly.

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“It was up but it didn’t get very high.

“When it flew over us it seemed like the engine was struggling.

“Someone said they saw it bump down the 16th fairway and crash.

“It’s a local plane, one that we’ve seen before and we call in the Red Baron.”

Light aircraft crashes beside fifth fairway at Crosland Heath Golf Club, Huddersfield.

Another golfer, Frank Taylor, a member for 45 years, said: “We were on the eighth and this biplane came over and it was clear it was losing power.

“It went over the tree line and then we heard a sudden big bang.”

John Blackburn was working on his own aircraft at the nearby airfield when he got a message that a fellow pilot had crashed.

He rushed over the road to the golf course to help the pilot and assist in recovering the stricken aircraft.

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John said: “I came looking around and found it in pieces with the pilot out of the aeroplane.

“I know the aircraft as it’s been at our airfield for quite some time and I know the pilot.”

John said the man had complained of back pain before he was taken to hospital for a check-up.

He said he was a very experienced pilot.

“He’s been flying for 20 odd years, he’s by no means a beginner,” he added.

Plane from Crosland Moor Airfield crashed on the adjacent golf course. Police and airfield staff carried it off the course and disassembled it on a verge before taking it back to be repaired

“It’s a good job he came down on the golf course as there were lots of people there to look after him.

“If he’d have crashed elsewhere he could have been stranded for hours.”

Onlookers and airfield staff, with the help of local police officers, moved the plane by hand so the President’s Prize tournament could continue.

They carried the single seat Tiger Cub plane from where it had ditched on the fairway to a verge on Blackmoorfoot Road, lifting it over a drystone wall in the process.

Video thumbnail, Plane crash at Crosland Heath Golf Club
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Airfield staff and police used tools to unbolt the wings of the plane and it was quickly taken apart, loaded on to a flat-bed truck and taken away for analysis and repair.

It is only 12 months since a four-seater plane flown by 82-year-old Malcolm Hill crashed at Crosland Moor Airfield.

Mr Hill’s 1972 Piper Cherokee Arrow was wrecked after it failed to get off the ground during take-off last June.

The red Baron departs the scene of the plane crash on a trailer. Picture by James Sutherland

He was unhurt but two of his three passengers suffered minor injuries.

Factfile:

The Tiger Cub plane is a single-seater light aircraft.

It is powered by a 337cc engine

It is thought this plane was from the late 1980s and was hand built by an enthusiast