Essex: Crash Pilots Died After Spin

Two men died when their light aircraft crashed into a lake in Essex during a "disorientating manoeuvre" while carrying out an aerobatic training exercise, an inquest has heard.

Instructor Simon Hulme, 33, from Cirencester, and his 43-year-old student Spencer Bennett were killed when their light plane crashed at Langford on April 28 last year.

It was unclear which pilot was in control of the two-seater Yak 52 when it plummeted towards the ground in an inverted spin, the jury inquest in Chelmsford heard.

The pair, who were on the third day of the three-day course, both had controls, with the arrangement being that the student would fly the plane under the instructor's supervision with the instructor taking over if felt necessary.

It was unlikely the spin was intentional and although such a manoeuvre could be recovered from, it was not thought that either pilot had received any training in it or done so before, Tim Atkinson, senior investigator at the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) told the inquest.

Mr Atkinson, who attended the scene of the crash, said recovery from the manoeuvre could have been adversely affected by the pilots' unfamiliarity with it, ambiguity as to who should be in control and the pilots being unsure of the controls.

Pilots attending the aerobatics course, at North Weald Airfield, had to provide an outline of their previous flying experience but were not assessed in any way before taking part and there was also no formal risk management or safety system in place, the inquest heard.

During the course the instructors would demonstrate new formations and skills ahead of the students trying them out themselves, with the instructors inside the plane with them and able to take control if felt necessary.

Mr Bennett, who lived in Holland, had obtained his private pilots licence in 1999 and had his first experience of aerobatic flying in 2008 but had only partially completed a three hour and five minute course.

The inquest heard he had been described as a "slow learner" who "made more mistakes than others" but was also said to be very committed to improving and to possess the correct attitude for flying.

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