A witness has described her horror of seeing a small aircraft plummet from the sky before bursting into flames on a Highland hillside.
The pilot of the gyrocopter was killed when it crashed into a field between the villages of Munlochy and Avoch, on the Black Isle, just before 1pm.
The male pilot, who was the sole occupant, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Kathy Taylor, who lives in Avoch, was walking her dog near the spot when she saw the gyrocopter’s propeller fly off as it plunged out of the sky and disappeared behind trees.
“I stopped on the track to talk to someone I know when I heard this bang and just saw it fall out of the sky and the propeller came off it. It was quite a surreal experience.
“It was flying very low at the time, no more that a couple of hundred feet. I thought ‘that’s really not good’ and ran up the hill, through a wood and then about 100 metres into the field where I saw this great big burning mass. It was pretty traumatic.”
She said at first the helicopter was obscured but as she emerged from the woods, she then saw thick black smoke: “I ran over but it was engulfed in flames. It was well going by the time I got there. I got as close as the flames would let me but there was a fierce heat coming off it. There was nothing I could do.”
She said a couple also on the scene called the emergency services while she went to the road to direct emergency vehicles to the crash site.
“I wanted to make sure they went the right way because it was really in the middle of nowhere.”
Ms Taylor said she believes the pilot may have been trying to land at a small airstrip in the area used mainly by remote control plane enthusiasts.
Last night emergency services were still at the crash site, by then shrouded in darkness, as an investigation by police and aviation experts got underway into what caused the tragedy.