AN 83-year-old pilot had a miraculous escape as his aircraft burst into flames while taxiing to a hangar.

The pensioner was left scrambling out of the ultra-lightweight single-seat aircraft after the cockpit filled with smoke along the banks of the River Clyde in Thankerton in South Lanarkshire.

The incident took place shortly after 6pm on April 10 this year, with the official Air Accident Investigations Branch (AAIB) report only being released this week.

Pictures from the scene show the Colomban Luciole aircraft - which is mostly made from wood, plywood, metal, foam, and plastic - engulfed in flames, with thick black smoke billowing into the air.

Glasgow Times: The route of the taxi to the hangar, where the fire beganThe route of the taxi to the hangar, where the fire began

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The unnamed pilot, who had 15,324 hours of experience flying - 60 of which were on the same type of aircraft - was remarkably left uninjured as he made his way to safety. 

He was just beginning to taxi back to the hanger after a local flight when the incident occurred.

It's thought there was a lack of insulation on the starter solenoid (a coil of wire), and an electrical short circuit was sparked when the pilot applied the rudder foot pedal. 

This then ignited the fuel, causing the aircraft to burst into flames.

Glasgow Times: The pilot was uninjured during the shock incident (AAIB)The pilot was uninjured during the shock incident (AAIB)

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The AAIB report states: "After landing the pilot taxied the aircraft to the hangar.

"The route from the airstrip to the hangar involved several tight turns and it was following a left turn, where the pilot applied full left rudder pedal, that he felt a restriction.

"Shortly afterwards the cockpit filled with smoke and the pilot quickly exited the aircraft.

"In his haste to exit he did not wait for the aircraft to come to a halt, turn off the fuel or turn off the ignition.

"The aircraft was destroyed by fire but the pilot did not suffer any injuries."

Following the investigation, the Light Aircraft Association (LAA) has recommended that all UK-registered Colomban Luciole aircraft are to be modified to a higher hear-resistant fuel pipe specification to avoid any re-occurance. 

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