TWO men escaped with their lives after their plane crashed into the side of a peak in the Yorkshire Dales.

The Cessna light aircraft in which they were travelling came down in thick cloud and darkness on moors near the summit of Ingleborough last night.

It is believed that they had become disorientated in the fog – and the pair were described as being the ‘luckiest men in Britain’ by one of their rescuers.

“To have survived flying into a hill is nothing short of incredible,” said RAF search and rescue pilot Stuart Reeks, who helped locate the pair.

“I think they are amazingly lucky to have got away with it. I’ve never been to a rescue like that because people don’t survive them very often.”

The pilot is believed to be Adrian Smith, 55, a Blackpool flying instructor, who was taking his 31-year-old passenger, from Blackburn, on a night-time flying lesson from the Westair Flying School at the resort.

The pair escaped the mangled wreckage with broken ankles, fractured ribs and facial injuries.

They then had to wait for almost five hours in the dark and cold until search teams could pinpoint their location.

“With visibilty at just 10ft we kept up contact with the pair via radio and they told us when they could hear our helicopter approaching,” said Mr Reeks.

“It was simply a case of playing the louder quieter game until we got close enough to work out where they were.”

“They remained calm far more than most. It would have been scary and disorientating on the hill on their own but they kept up a positive mental attitude,” he said.

The RAF deemed the weather too dangerous to continue with the mission and 36 members of Clapham Cave Rescue found them at midnight and stretchered them off the fell on foot at 4.30am.

They are being treated in the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

"It was an horrific crash,” said Clapham Cave Rescue duty controller Tom Redfern.

“When the search rescue dogs found them they were getting a bit cold as obviously they weren’t equipped to be out on the hill in the middle of the night.

“There was a general feeling that the men were lucky to survive.

"It looked like the craft had flown straight into the slope just below the summit.

“The pilot had become totally lost in thick cloud and darkness and flew the plane straight into the mountainside.”

The cave rescue team were assisted in the search by 12 members of Kendal Mountain Rescue Team.

The accident has been reported to Air Accidents Investigation Bureau and Civil Aviation Authority.