Benhall: Businessman and pilot Michael Newman’s death was a ‘tragic accident’ - coroner

IPSWICH: An “adventurous” Ipswich businessman and amateur pilot killed in a light aircraft crash in northern Turkey died in a tragic accident, a coroner has ruled.

Michael Newman, from Benhall, near Saxmundham, was flying a two-seater plane when it went down in May 2007.

The inquest into the 53-year-old’s death was held yesterday in Lowestoft.

Mr Newman, who was married with two adult sons, was the founder and concept designer of Ipswich based Spirit Yachts.

He had been involved in the first of Daniel Craig’s Bond films, Casino Royale, when the production company borrowed one of his vessels.

Yesterday’s inquest heard that Mr Newman’s De Gier WJ Sky Arrow 650T aircraft crashed on the Yayla plateau in the Trabzon province in Turkey on its way to Iran.

The plane had set off at 9.31am on May 13, 2007 but lost radio contact and crashed in a mountainous area.

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The inquest heard the area had “hostile” terrain and there were adverse flying conditions as there was fog which limited visibility.

According to an accident report it is believed Mr Newman was flying at a low altitude when the crash occurred.

The cause was given as local weather conditions leading to loss of visibility, the inquest heard.

Mr Newman’s friend, Pakistani passenger Brigadier General Zaka Ulab Bhamgoo, 53, also died in the crash.

It is believed their bodies were found two days later.

Mr Newman was described as “adventurous” and of having a love of travelling, which led to his passion for flying.

Recording a verdict of accidental death Greater Suffolk Coroner Dr Peter Dean said: “It is clear from the circumstances that this was a tragic accident leading to the loss of Michael Anthony Newman and his friend and companion in the aircraft.”

He said his wife had described him as “a wonderful man, loved by everyone who knew him” and he had a “passion for life” and “lived each day to its fullest”.

Known as Mick to his friends and family, Mr Newman had been the co-founder and co-director of Ipswich-based yacht designing company, Spirit Yachts Ltd, for about 15 years.

Speaking after the accident, his business partner Sean McMillan described him as “an extremely talented man’’ and “a very, very keen amateur flyer’’.

Mr McMillan explained how his colleague and Mr Bhamgoo, also a pilot, had met several years ago at a charity flying event, raising money for a Pakistani village.

“Their joint love of planes joined them in a very close friendship,” he said.

“They had spent time flying in each other’s countries and this was their great adventure from England to Pakistan. It was Mick’s own plane.

“They reckoned it would take three weeks. They had organised and planned it extremely well but they couldn’t plan for catastrophic bad weather at the wrong moment.

“From what I can understand, the weather closed in over the mountains.”

Mr Newman’s eldest son George said he had been planning the trip for the best part of three years with his friend and co-pilot and described the project as “very dear to my father’s heart”.

“Flying was a great hobby about which he was very enthusiastic,” he added.

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