A microlight pilot had to swim for his life after escaping from his tiny aircraft after it stalled and crashed into the River Cleddau near Burton earlier this year, an investigation report states.

A newly published Air Accident Investigation Branch report into the incident states that the 51-year-old pilot was returning to Haverfordwest Airfield after an hour’s flight but was dazzled by the evening sun just before the incident on March 9.

Then he spotted power lines and steel pylons ahead through the glare of the sun and took emergency action to steer the microlight away from them.

However, the 2004 built Mainair Blade microlight – reg G CCXR – owned by Peter Leonard Owen of Llangwm, then stalled and crashed down into the water below. The aircraft was wrecked in the crash.

The report adds: “Suddenly the pilot saw that he was heading towards a set of power lines and supporting steel pylons, and he took evasive action by pushing the control bar forwards and left to initiate a climbing right turn.

“He believes he may also have reduced power further and that the combined effect of this low level manoeuvre was for the speed to reduce quickly and the wing to stall. His next recollection was that he was deluged with water when the aircraft hit the river.

“As the aircraft settled on its right side, the pilot had to bend his head left to keep it above the water.

“He was wearing a lap strap which he was unable to undo with his gloved hand so he had to use his teeth to take one glove off before he could operate the harness release. After approximately 10 minutes the aircraft began to sink and the pilot swam to the shore and was later treated for the effects of hypothermia.”

The investigation found that the glare of the low sun impaired the pilot’s ability to see the wires as he flew a low altitude towards an unexpected obstruction.