Microlight pilot walks away from crash

A pilot was lucky to walk away from a microlight crash landing in a kiwifruit orchard near Motueka this afternoon.

The 63-year-old was the sole occupant of the aircraft when it was hit by engine trouble, Senior Sergeant Stu Koefoed  said. He tried to glide back to Motueka Airport, but landed short in the orchard.

The pilot recieved only minor injuries.

A pilot with Skydive Abel Tasman, Shawn Hansen, saw that the plane was in difficulty from his office window on College St and called emergency services.

''I knew something was going wrong with that one, it was low and slow and it wasn't heading in the right direction of the runway," he said.

"I thought straight away he was looking for a paddock, or would try and make it (to the airport). He obviously had an engine failure.''

Hansen said the microlight was wedged between two vines. He said there was only ''a handful'' of privately owned microlight aircrafts that used the Motueka airport.