An elderly ex-RAF ace flying a replica Luftwaffe plane suffered serious injuries when he mistook a crop field for an airstrip, a report has found writes Jonathan Coles.

Barry Conway, 82, crash-landed and flipped the World War Two model onto its roof close to Lower Upham Farm Airstrip on July 12.

The experienced pilot had to be rescued from the home-built Focke Wulf aircraft, which was damaged beyond repair.

A probe has now found that Mr Conway confused an adjacent field with the runway near Marlborough, Wilts. - "owing to its similarity in colour".

The plane then "stopped violently" and pitched over on landing - trapping the pilot and seriously injuring him.

A friend and former colleague previously said Mr Conway was "very lucky" to be alive following the incident.

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A report from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch reads: "The aircraft had landed in crop to the left of the grass runway.

"[Mr Conway] reported that he mistook the unmarked grass runway to be part of the crop in the adjacent field to the right of the runway owing to its similarity in colour.

"Instead, he made an approach to and landed in the field to the left of the runway, where tractor marks and the edge of the grass airstrip had created the appearance of a 'false' runway similar in size and shape.

"The sun overhead may have reduced the contrast between the grass strip and the crops, contributing to the reduced conspicuity of the grass airstrip.

"The pilot reported that the runway has since been marked out with white chalk lines."

Emergengy services raced to the scene following the crash, which took place amid "bright sunshine and light winds" at around 1:50pm.

Mr Conway, who won the Schneider Trophy Air Race - a 100 mile mid-air race, famous for its incredible speeds and intricate manoeuvring - in 2000, was then taken to hospital.

His partner in the race, Dudley Pattinson, 76, said at the time that the crash could have been deadly.

He said: "The ruts made by the tractor wheels made the plane flip over on to its back.

"He is very lucky to be with us. He could have easily broken his neck and there was always a concern about the fuel igniting."