ABOVE: The Grumman Wildcat involved in the incident made its first post-restoration flight in October 2022. 

A Grumman Wildcat suffered an incident whilst landing in the grounds of Heveningham Hall, Suffolk, on the evening of Thursday 6 June.

Police officers, ambulance crews and ten fire appliances from Suffolk Fire and Rescue were in attendance, with the Suffolk Constabulary noting ‘it is believed the pilot was attempting to land the plane at the time of the incident’.

At the controls was John Romain, world-renowned warbird pilot and Director of Duxford-based Aircraft Restoration Company (ARCo). He was airlifted to Ipswich Hospital by the Essex and Hertfordshire Air Ambulance but despite sustaining head injuries, is since believed to have left hospital.

The annual Heveningham Hall Country Fair went ahead as scheduled at the weekend, featuring – amongst other attractions – displays of classic cars, vintage tractors, a variety of animals and local food. As well as a Spitfire display, a variety of other historic aircraft were also present on the static line-up.

After an area of the grounds was initially cordoned off while police officers dealt with the incident, a team of Air Accident Investigation Branch inspectors arrived on site the following morning to begin an investigation. An AAIB spokesperson noted: “The AAIB has launched an investigation into an accident which occurred yesterday… where a Grumman FM2 Wildcat overturned on landing. A team of inspectors arrived on site [on Friday morning] to examine the aircraft and begin gathering evidence”.

The annual fair is organized by the Heveningham Call Country Fair Trust, which has raised over a million pounds for local communities and charities since its inception.