Test pilot recalls astonishing crash

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George Aird did not have much time to think when a fire broke out in the rear of his latest test aeroplane.

Hurtling along at 175mph and only hundreds of feet in the air, he knew he had to get out of the Lightning aircraft fast before it nosedived into the ground.

He pulled the lever on his ejector seat and the next thing he knew, he was lying on the ground, surrounding by concerned faces.

That was in September 1962.

"I went straight through a large commercial greenhouse," recalls the great-grandfather, of Hesketh Bank.

"When I came to, I was being sprayed by warm water from the pipes I had broken. I thought I was in heaven. Someone said, 'Don't move, your legs are broken'."

George is now 80, and his memories of his dramatic lucky escape were rekindled when the Lightning jet was featured in the Evening Post after being awarded an Engineering Heritage Award from the Institute of Mechanical Engineers.

To read all of George's amazing story, buy Thursday's Lancashire Evening Post.