Paul McCartney narrowly avoids helicopter disaster
Paul McCartney performs Hey Jude at the end of the opening ceremonies for the 2012 Summer Olympics Saturday, July 28, 2012 in London.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Published Sunday, November 11, 2012 10:59AM EST
Sir Paul McCartney narrowly avoided a potentially-fatal crash when the pilot of his helicopter became "disorientated" in bad weather.
The Beatles legend and his wife Nancy Shevell were just two feet away from disaster as the helicopter plunged towards trees, but fortunately the pilot dramatically lifted the chartered Sikorsky S-76C away at the last minute.
The drama happened as the aircraft attempted to land at night on a helipad at Paul's East Sussex estate and the helicopter eventually touched down safely after diverting to a nearby airport.
The couple were said to be unaware of how close they came to crashing but the near miss is being investigated by the Department of Transport.
According to The Mail on Sunday newspaper, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch has categorised the episode - which occurred on May 3 - as a "serious incident", which it defines as "involving circumstances indicating that an accident nearly occurred".
The report also reveals flying conditions that night included "low cloudbase, poor visibility and rain".
Despite this, the pilot went ahead and prepared to land on Pauls's helipad, which is in the corner of a field encircled by woodland.
It added: "While manoeuvring, the commander became disorientated and the helicopter descended towards tops of trees in the forested area to the south and west of the landing site."
The pilot then "executed a go-around" or aborted landing.
Peter Norton, chief executive of the British Helicopter Association, said: "He [the pilot] was going to land and realised he wasn't in control of the aircraft because of the weather conditions and visibility; he pulled in lots of power to climb away and correct the aircraft to its proper flightpath and missed whatever it was by two feet."
Paul's spokesman said: "Paul has been spoken to. It has been put to him, everything. It's a no comment."