UKIP's Farage: 'I'm the luckiest man alive'

6 May 2010, 13:46 | Updated: 10 May 2010, 08:24

Former UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage has been treated in hospital after the light aircraft he was in crashed near Brackley.

It's believed Mr Farage was taking part in an election stunt in a light aircraft which was towing a banner behind it when it went down at the Hinton in the Hedges airfield.

There was speculation that the accident, in which Mr Farage suffered minor head injuries, was caused when the banner got tangled up in the plane.

The MEP was taken to Banbury's Horton Hospital with non life-threatening injuries, but later transferred to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.  The pilot was airlifted to Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry.

A UKIP party spokesman said: "We've had unconfirmed reports that either the banner got snagged up or there were cross-winds and it was an unfamiliar airfield to the pilot, who had to be cut out of the plane.''

This was the third time the plane had gone up, with the same pilot flying it on the previous two occasions. The spokesman said: "The plane went up, the banner went up, it came in low over the airfield and it looked like somehow there was some kind of problem that involved the plane losing height and hitting the ground.

"As a result it looked like, looking at the wreckage and talking to some of the people from the ambulance and fire and rescue, that the plane flipped when it hit the ground. There's debris all over the place.''

Mr Farage and the pilot were in a state of "shock and turmoil'' afterwards, he said.

"Our main priority was getting both Nigel and the pilot out of the plane. The pilot used a mobile phone to talk to emergency services to tell them what had happened and exactly where the location was, which was a good sign because he was still able to communicate with people.

"But he was very clearly trapped in the wreckage. We're very grateful both men are still with us.'' He described Mr Farage's injuries as "some bumps and some scrapes on his face. As well as facial cuts and bruises, it is thought he may have received some injuries to his chest.

He said: "Our thoughts are with the family of the pilot today.''

The aircraft was believed to be a 1960s-style biplane which left the Winchester area of Hampshire early on Thursday and flew into Hinton. The accident happened as it was taking off again from Hinton, the spokesman said.  The plane was due to fly over Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire.

The crash is being investigated by the Air Accident Investigation Branch, supported by Northamptonshire Police.