Family horror as plane crashes
FAMILY and friends watched in horror as a father-of-two was killed when his light aircraft spiralled to the ground and burst into flames.Steve Cowham, 40, was putting on a flying display for guests - including his wife and children - attending a retirement party when the plane hit the ground only 60 yards from a pair of cottages at Hoxne, near Eye.
FAMILY and friends watched in horror as a father-of-two was killed when his light aircraft spiralled to the ground and burst into flames.
Steve Cowham, 40, was putting on a flying display for guests - including his wife and children - attending a retirement party when the plane hit the ground only 60 yards from a pair of cottages at Hoxne, near Eye.
Family and friends of the pilot were only a few hundred yards away from the point of impact, in an arable field, and it is understood that some of the cottage occupants were in their garden, only 30-40 yards away.
Mr Cowham, a successful businessman, was giving an air display as part of the retirement celebrations of family friend Alan Smith, a partner in the Gaze & Son auctioneering and estate agency firm at Diss.
Mr Smith and his wife, Carole, live next door to Mr Cowham's parents, Pauline and John Cowham and all were present at a retirement party in Mr and Mrs Smith's garden.
The garden backs on to a field, from where guests were watching the display.
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Suffolk Fire Service took several 999 calls reporting the crash and crews were on the scene within minutes to douse the flames.
Ambulances and a helicopter from RAF Wattisham were also sent to the scene, only 100 yards from the Diss to Stradbroke road.
It is understood that Mr Cowham, who only gained his pilot's licence within the past two years, had earlier taken off from Old Buckenham airfield, near Diss.
One eye-witness, Brian Chester, a Hoxne parochial church councillor, said he heard the engine stop and when he looked up he saw the plane half a mile away, “gently” spiralling to the ground.
“It hit the ground and burst into flames. Then smoke started to come up,” he said.
Another eye-witness said the pilot had appeared to be doing a tight loop when the aircraft plunged towards the ground.
Mr Chester and his wife, Sallie said Mr Cowham had been a very pleasant young man.
“The whole village is totally shocked and everyone is sharing in the grief of family and friends,” Mr Chester said.
Mr Cowham, who has a sister, Dawn, was born in Hoxne and lived in Fressingfield, where he ran a successful garage business.
Friends said members of the Cowham family were too distressed to talk about the tragedy last night.
The occupants of the two cottages close to the crash scene were also too upset to speak.