Pilot escapes mid-air collision with a cut hand

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The Independent Online
A former Second World War pilot whose motorised glider collided with a helicopter in mid-air yesterday escaped with nothing more than a cut hand.

Martin Hopfmuller, 68, a retired Austrian music professor, said his life had been saved by the cloth cap he always wears when flying.

"The cap was knocked clean off, if I hadn't been wearing it I fear my head would have been cut clean off," he said.

The pilot, Philip Amadeus, and Paul Moran, the co-pilot, of the Twin Squirrel helicopter, also sustained only minor injuries after it plunged to the ground on a hill near Long Marsten, North Yorkshire.

Mr Hopfmuller had been piloting his Catana DV 20 aircraft from Leeds to Rufforth Airfield on the outskirts of York. As he approached the landing strip he collided with the helicopter, which was on a flight from Pocklington, in East Yorkshire, to Teeside.

"The rotor blade cracked me on the perspex shield attached to my cloth cap which I always wear to fly in," he said. Although his right hand was bleeding he kept control of the glider and landed in a field.

He refused to be taken to hospital by an RAF helicopter because he was too terrified to fly. An ambulance took him by road.

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