A MISTAKE at the controls is believed to have been the cause of a light aircraft crash which left a Dudley pilot’s plane upside down in a field near Halfpenny Green Airport, a report has revealed.

The Air Accident Investigation Branch’s report into the crash, which happened just north of the airfield near Stourbridge on October 19 2013, says the pilot of the aircraft – a 1982 built Cassutt Racer – “may have inadvertently selected the mixture control to fully lean on the downwind leg instead of applying the carburettor heat”.

Private pilot, Terence Dennis Gardner, of Gorge Road, Dudley, had been engaged in circuit practice – the report states.

Unable to reach the runway, the 65-year-old - who has 303 hours’ of flying experience - crash landed upside down in a muddy, ploughed field nearby and was left trapped in the cockpit of the single-seater craft until the Airfield Fire Service arrived.

Miraculously he walked free from the incident unscathed after crews righted the plane – which suffered damage to its fin and propeller.

The report said after carrying out pre-take off checks “everything was normal as the aircraft climbed to the circuit height of 1,000 feet but, a few seconds after turning onto base leg for Runway 16, the engine started to run down”.

It continued: “The pilot found he could keep it running in bursts by pumping the throttle, but this was insufficient to maintain altitude and he declared an emergency to the control tower.

“He initially thought he might be able to reach the runway but soon realised that he could not.”

The report concludes: “The pilot is of the opinion that he may have inadvertently pulled the mixture lever instead of the carburettor heat.

"He advised that the mixture control on the Cassutt was in a similar place to the carburettor heat control on the Taylor Titch aircraft that he had flown for five years.”

The AAIB report said the pilot may also have been distracted by a number of exchanges with the tower over other circuit traffic at the point that he would normally have selected the carburettor heat.