Sir Alan Sugar cheats death as plane overshoots runway

Sir Alan inspects damaged plane Sir Alan inspects damaged plane (Pic:SM)

Apprentice boss Sir Alan Sugar cheated death yesterday after crash-landing his private plane.

The multi-millionaire amazingly walked away unhurt after he overshot the runway at City of Manchester Airport.

His four-seater Cirrus - which he once described as "the ultimate boy's toy" - landed, then hit a rut in the ground just beyond the 700-metre runway in wet and heavy conditions.

Last night a trainee pilot who was at the airport said: "He was extremely lucky and was visibly shaken.

"He was overheard telling people in the airport's flying school clubhouse that he came in too fast and too steep.

"The front wheel took the brunt of the landing, the nose dipped down a little and the propeller hit the ground.

"It is only a small airport. The runway is only 700 metres long.

There is not a great deal of room for pilot error.

"Had he been going much faster, it could have been a very different story."

A tractor was driven to the scene to tow the Cirrus aircraft into a nearby hangar as Sir Alan and a male flying companion climbed down and walked away from the crash.

Last night Sir Alan's spokesman David Fraser played down the prang as "a minor incident".

He said: "Alan has been flying for over 30 years and is an extremely experienced pilot.

"He wasn't shaken up by this minor incident.

"The plane has been grounded because of damage to the propeller which needs to be re-balanced by an engineer.

"Sir Alan and his flying partner would have returned to Essex where they took off, but there was no engineer available to re-balance the propeller.

"The accident was due to the weather being particularly wet and heavy. It is also a very short runway.

"For Sir Alan this was just a pleasure trip. He flies a great deal at the weekends."

Sir Alan, 61, who is worth an estimated £800million, had taken off an hour earlier from a private flying strip close to his home in Essex. Last night he was back at home in Chigwell with his wife Ann - they recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary.

Sir Alan is one of Britain's leading entrepreneurs, who made a fortune after leaving school at 16.

He was knighted in 2000 after masterminding several highly successful businesses, including hi-fi, word processors and early home computers.

He is now more famous for his hit TV show, The Apprentice, and his catchphrase "You're fired."

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