What happens when you land in a field with a cow?

So, what is it like to have an emergency landing at Feshiebridge (Cairngorm gliding club) and then have to land in a field on the other side of the river next to some cows!?

Bill Anderson shares his perspective of how he ended up in the field next to the gliding club surrounded by a few cows! 

"Earlier in the day l assisted in the launch of one or two members and visitors. Nick was the first to start climbing in 3 knots over Aviemore and others started to settle into what was looking like some classic A9 wave.

Tony and l were eager to get the Cirrus fleet into the air and l pushed ahead to get online. 

All check's complete including cable release and l launched into a breeze straight down the runway, my ground run seemed a bit longer than expected and l took off just before the tug. At 150' and two-thirds of the way down the runway the cable released. I saw the tug with the rope attached pull away l turned GCD towards the river and looked over the Feshie for a place to land. I was too low to make any major alterations to course except to avoid a man walking his dog, l opted to land straight ahead into some rough pasture.

The landing involved holding off on top of the grass and easing the brakes out until GCD settled into the undergrowth the ground run ending in a ground loop.

Logbook reads failed launch 150 feet landed in a shower of thistles on the other side of the Feshie.

Thanks go to all the retrieve crew, to Conor's mum and her 4x4 and to the tame and bemused Highland cattle.

Phil Hawkins who had a bit more time on his hands and was helping out on the airfield shares his account of the incident.

 "The airfield appeared to be largely deserted when we arrived, but that turned out to be because it was a good wave day and all the visiting gliders were airborne.  We munched our lunches and watched Bill Anderson being towed off in his Cirrus, and although I wasn’t watching the climb-out over the river, I noticed immediately when the tug noise changed, meaning he had come off the tow prematurely.  I scanned the skies in vain for any sign of the Cirrus, but after just a minute or two there was a relay from Pete Smith in Vega DXG that he had ended up in a field on the other side of the river, about half-way between the Bear’s Paw and the 03 end of the runway.  A retrieve crew began to assemble, including Pete Smith and Peter Hadfield who had both just landed, and Dave Weekes.  It was decided to use Tony’s Cirrus trailer as it was known that Bill’s isn’t yet roadworthy.  Meanwhile Dave Brown had gone off towards the other side of the river in search of a suitable access route and we followed suit in our car, ahead of the trailer crew.
We drove up the Glen Feshie road past the entrance to the Bear’s Paw lochans and turned in at Ballintean.  Our first guess took us down the track towards Feshie bridge but that turned out to be wrong.  After a short walk across the upper-level field, we spotted Bill’s Cirrus in a lower level field on the other side of more fences.  Dave Brown’s little white car was retreating into the distance and he had clearly not spotted Bill from the road, so we left a phone message for him, reversed to the farm, and parked up on a gravel forecourt.  Down a steep little track to a gate took us to the entrance to Bill’s field.  He was walking across towards us, accompanied by a young lad who turned out to be Connor, who is Jane Williamson’s grandson and who has been to the Club and joined up as a member maybe a year ago.
The field was very tussocky, with grass and weed depth varying from 18 inches to 3 feet.  We also made contact with Catherine who lives at Balnespick farmhouse and was effectively Jane Williamson’s carer towards the end of her life.  I think it is her to whom Nick is still paying the airfield rent once a year.  She was driving a big Nissan 4x4 vehicle and happily agreed to let Dave Brown use it to tow the glider across the field towards the slightly muddy entrance.  There were also three or four pale tan-colored highland coos in the field, who seemed moderately interested in what we were doing but fortunately showed no inclination to chew the glider or walk up its wings!
Meanwhile, the rest of the crew had arrived with the trailer.  The trailer was uncoupled from the car and reversed by hand down the short slope to the gate, where the glider was de-rigged and packed away.  We made Bill a cup of mocha coffee and gave him some hi-fi mint choc bars to cheer him up, but I think he got away with it, being uninjured and the glider having minimal scrapes and scratches.  He chatted briefly to the farm owner who had been walking his dog in the field when Bill landed, but he was happy too.  Catherine’s wagon was used once more to haul the trailer back up the slope to the level courtyard where the original retrieve crew took over.  Back to the airfield for beer and sympathy!"

There will be an inspection into the apparent malfunction of the release hook! For now, everyone is just happy that the cows didn't munch on the glider! 



  1. Thanks also to Tony for use of his trailer, never did ask him if he followed the Vega's into the wave?


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