Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 6°C

min temp: 1°C

Search

Gallery and update: Investigations into light aircraft crash continue as witnesses describe seeing the aircraft “attempting a somersault” before going down

PUBLISHED: 09:25 30 March 2014 | UPDATED: 23:00 30 March 2014

Emergency services on the scene of a light aircraft crash in Essex. Photo: Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

Emergency services on the scene of a light aircraft crash in Essex. Photo: Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

Graham S Dean Photography

An investigation is continuing after a pilot and his passenger were killed when their light aircraft burst into flames as it crashed into a field in Essex.

The two men were travelling in a Yak 52 plane when they got into difficulties at around 2.55pm yesterday after flying out of North Weald airfield.

Witnesses described how the training aircraft had been attempting a somersault before going down in a rural area between Ongar and Writtle, near Chelmsford.

The aircraft was “completely alight” when firefighters arrived at the scene near Cooksmill Green, Essex Fire and Rescue Service said.

A spokesman said: “On arrival the incident commander reported that the plane was completely alight.

“Crews used foam and had extinguished the fire by 3.55pm.”

Paul Aston, from the church at Cooksmill, said: “It sounded just like a road traffic accident. There was the sound of a light aircraft then this crump and then silence.

“There wasn’t a bang.

“We have lots of light aircraft fly over us, it’s nothing abnormal.”

North Weald airfield is owned by Epping Forest District Council.

Deputy Chief Executive of the council, Derek Macnab, went to the scene soon after the incident.

He said: ‘People at North Weald Airfield are shocked and dismayed following reports of an aircraft crash at Cooksmill Green earlier this afternoon.

‘Details are yet to be confirmed but our thoughts and condolences are with the family and friends of those involved.’

A police spokeswoman said: “Emergency services rushed to the scene and fire crews extinguished the fire caused when the plane crashed. Two men, a pilot and his passenger - both from Essex - were on board. The plane had flown out from North Weald airfield.”

Sam Gildersleeve, from Ongar, said he was having lunch with friends when he saw the plane flying low close to the A414 near Cooksmill Green.

Mr Gildersleeve told the BBC: “At this point we all looked at the sky and the plane attempted to do a somersault unsuccessfully, we heard a popping sound and noticed the plane did not re-emerge.

“We then noticed smoke coming from the site in the field where the plane had crashed. Shortly after the emergency services appeared.”

Two people were also killed when a Yak 52 aircraft from North Weald crashed in April 2011.

Instructor Simon Hulme, 33, and his 43-year-old student, Spencer Bennett, died when their plane crashed near Langford, east of Chelmsford.

An inquest in Chelmsford in 2012 heard they were on the last day of a three-day formation flying school when the aircraft spun and plummeted from 1,800ft into a lake.

The jury returned verdicts of accidental death after hearing nearly two hours of evidence.

In January 2003, Falklands veteran Anthony Hunt, 48, died along with his brother Ian, 45, when their aircraft crashed in a field on the Easton Neston estate, near Towcester, Northamptonshire, while practising aerobatic manoeuvres.

His family were awarded £270,000 damages by the High Court in 2006 after an investigation found that during maintenance a short screwdriver had become wedged into the wires that operated the rear elevators of the plane.

The Yakovlev Yak 52 is a two-seater propeller aircraft first built in the Soviet Union in the 1970s.

The former Soviet Air Force training aircraft is a popular plane for aerobatic flying around the world.

It has a top speed of 223mph and a service life of 30 years, according to www.yak.ru. It is not known how old the aircraft which crashed yesterday was.

Police said that immediate family of the deceased had been informed.

0 comments

A planning inquiry into proposals to build 300 homes in Kesgrave has stalled after it was ruled that a key report on housing needs in Suffolk was needed for a fair decision to be made.

New university rankings revealed today show the University of Essex has climbed nine places while the University of Suffolk has appeared on the list for the first time.

A Constable country village “under siege” from housing developers is considering divorcing Suffolk and joining Essex to fight back against development.

A drunk motorist who drove at speeds of up to 110mph during a police chase on Suffolk roads has been jailed for 16 months.

A series of celebrations marking the achievements of Suffolk’s “most famous daughter” is being held around the centenary of her death.

East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) thank support from generous communities and corporate organisations across Suffolk.

More than 100 creative computing pupils put their digital skills to the test today at the UK finals of the CoSpace competition in Martlesham.

Caravans have pitched up on land in Martlesham Heath, near Adastral Park, today.

People living along a 183km stretch of Suffolk roads will witness the world’s greatest cyclists race past their doorsteps during Britain’s “premier” road event, which for the first time features a stage hosted entirely within the county.

Former Ipswich Town stars Matt Holland and Russell Osman captained the teams in the annual ITFC Legends charity match, held at Bury Town’s Ram Meadow stadium on Sunday.

Most read

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter
MyDate24 MyPhotos24