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A pilot who was involved in a near miss at an air show may have been distracted by a passenger trying to take control of the aircraft, an investigation has found.

The plane almost hit another at the Shuttleworth drive-in event at Old Warden, Bedfordshire, on 27 September.

A UK Airprox Board report said the passenger kept resting their hands and feet on the controls.

It classed the risk of collision as B, the second highest category.

According to the report, one of the aircraft, a PA18, was towing a glider into position for the air display.

The other plane, a PA46, then came 50ft (15.2m) below and 200ft (60.9m) horizontally from the glider and its towing plane.

Shuttleworth air show
image captionThe air show was a drive-in event
The PA18 pilot, who had been looking at the glider, said they saw the other plane fly in front of them and "did not have time to carry out any avoiding action".

'Difficult' passenger
The PA46 pilot said they saw the other aircraft pass behind but "no avoiding action was required because they did not consider there was a risk of collision".

However, they also reported they had "experienced some difficulty with the passenger in the right-hand seat".

"They were constantly asking to try to fly the aircraft and, despite numerous requests for them not to do so, kept resting their hands and feet on the controls," the report said.

"This required keeping a watchful eye on them and it may have distracted the PA46 pilot's lookout and navigation."

The report also said a Notices to Airmen (NOTAM) was in place detailing a restricted flying area for the air show but the PA46 pilot had infringed this and not communicated with any suitable air traffic unit.

As such, the flight information service officer (AFISO) was not aware the aircraft was there until a warning was issued by a third aircraft.

The report also said the PA18 had its transponder turned off, which meant it could not be identified, and was also less manoeuvrable as it was towing the glider.

It agreed all these factors meant safety was not assured.

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