An experimental, lightweight aircraft crashed near the Brantford airport Friday morning, fire officials say, sending two men to hospital with serious injuries.

Firefighters were called to a tobacco field just west of the airport around 7:45 a.m., Deputy Fire Chief Geoff Hayman told CBC Hamilton. They found two people in serious need of assistance after their aircraft had plummeted to the ground. “They were banged up pretty bad,” Hayman said.

“From what I understand, there was an error in landing and they came down short.”

The aircraft was created by Solar Ship Inc., says Darryl Gilbert, who runs Gilbert Custom Aircraft. His company is in the building next to Solar Ship at the Brantford Airport.

Solar Ship did not immediately respond to calls or emails about the crash. Solar Ship builds "hybrid aircraft" with a bush plane base and an airship top with solar panels on top of it.

This type of aircraft is built as a means of delivering supplies short distances in places without easy access to runways like Africa, Hayman says. He likened it to a “hang glider with helium-filled wings, solar panels on top and driven by an electric motor.” The aircraft is about two to three times the size of a standard fire truck, he says.

The two men inside the aircraft were taken to a Hamilton hospital with serious, but non life-threatening injuries, police say. One of them had to be cut out of the aircraft.

Hayman couldn’t say how high in the air the plane had been flying before it hit the ground.

The Transportation Safety Board is sending an investigator to the crash site, officials say, to assess what happened.