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RAF Veteran Dies In Colorado Biplane Crash
A veteran RAF pilot who died after the biplane he was flying crashed in Colorado has been described by a friend as a "very dedicated family man".
Brian North, 72, from Parker, south of Denver, was flying a scaled down copy of a World War One-era SE 5a when it came down and caught fire near the Front Range Airport in Adams County on Wednesday.
Michael Buehner-Coldrey, who was also in the RAF and had flown the plane on its maiden flight, said: "Brian was a very good friend of mine, a clever guy, good with his hands.
"He left school at 15 and had a 35-year career in the RAF. He did an apprenticeship at RAF Halton near Aylesbury, and went on to become a wing commander, specialising in engineering, and travelled around working on Harriers.
"He received the MBE from the Queen for his services, and not many people have that.
"After retiring from the RAF, he worked for 10 years as an immigration officer at Heathrow."
Mr Buehner-Coldrey, from Aurora, Colorado, said Mr North had moved to the United States with his wife Adrienne "three or four years ago".
He said the couple had a daughter and a son and had celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary earlier this year.
"He was a very dedicated family man and very modest, with a dry sense of humour," the 67-year-old said.
Mr Buehner-Coldrey described the circumstances surrounding the crash as a "mystery" and said the plane, which used parts shipped from England and was only finished last month, had been in "perfect flying order".
"It was an absolutely beautiful day, there was no problem with the weather," he added. "It had to be something between man and machine."
Mr North had called the control tower on Wednesday afternoon and got clearance to perform a touch-and-go landing but then suddenly requested a normal landing.
He was heading for the runway but crashed about a mile north of it.
Dennis Heap, an airport official, said: "He was flying in a pattern one moment and down on the ground - crashed - the next moment. As far as I know there were no witnesses."
The crash will be investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Authority.