BANTON was the scene of an air drama after two lucky pilots walked away from the smouldering wreckage of their light aircraft.
They mounted a controlled landing of the stricken four seater Grumman AA5 moments after leaving Cumbernauld Airport and landed in a farmer's field, 200 metres north of Banton Loch.
The aircraft had got into difficulties at 1,000 feet -in a move which could so easily have spelled tragedy for the duo had it not been for their training.
But the potential for disaster did not end after the crash landing when the battered craft was seen to be leaking fuel.
A major rescue operation then sprung into play - after a total of 50 firefighters were dispatched from no fewer than SIX fire stations. A police helicopter was also scrambled to assess the extent of the damage.
The area was cordoned off for two hours following last Wednesday's drama.
It is understood that the emergency services encountered the two dazed pilots standing in the field just minutes after they had cheated death.
Both received medical checks from paramedics and were able to leave the scene by foot – without receiving any treatment.
Local farmer David Henderson (40) of Auchenrivoch Farm was involved in the rescue effort after it emerged that the plane had crashed to earth on his property.
He said: "I had just been to a funeral and I saw the police helicopter above and thought 'oh-oh'. That was my reaction when we had the drowning in the loch.
"I saw the firefighters and recognised a lad I had been at school with.
He told me all about it and where the incident was. I then realised that this was on my land," said David.
As the firefighters could only bring their appliances so far, good citizen David helped the firefighters bring equipment to the scene in his 4X4.
"You don't see something like this every day and they were very lucky," said David. "All I can say is that they made a good landing, going for a green field because the area around it is a lot rougher."
Graham Dawson, chief instructor of Border Air Training Flying School which owns the aircraft said: "The pilot handled the landing perfectly.
"Both are qualified. One was showing the other how to fly that kind of plane."