UK & World News

  • 31 March 2014, 7:42

'Somersault' Plane Crash: Essex Victim Named

A passenger who died when the light aircraft he was flying in burst into flames as it crashed into a field in Essex has been named.

Simon Chamberlain, a 29-year-old father-of-one from Harlow, died along with the pilot when their Yak 52 aircraft got into difficulties on Saturday afternoon.

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

Sam Gildersleeve, from Ongar, said he saw the plane flying low close to the A414 near Cooksmill Green when it attempted to do "a somersault unsuccessfully".

He said he then heard "a popping sound and noticed the plane did not re-emerge".

Police have said they were not in a position to name the pilot but confirmed he was also from Essex.

Mr Chamberlain's family said in a statement: "Lizzie, his wife, has lost her best friend and soul mate. His son, Charlie, who will be two years old in August, has lost his father. And his parents, Paul and Steph, have lost a loving son. We love him more than anything the world.

"Our hearts also go out to the other person involved in this tragedy.

"We know that you will respect the fact that we now need time to grieve and give us the space to heal."

Mr Chamberlain was an aircraft enthusiast who served as secretary and trustee of the North Weald Airfield Museum, both voluntary roles.

His family said he did everything at North Weald airfield from general maintenance to refuelling helicopters and moving planes around and was also a keen amateur aircraft photographer.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch is investigating the accident.

The Yakovlev Yak 52 is a Soviet aircraft which was first produced in the late 1970s and is still used for training both civilian aerobatics pilots and military pilots.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s many of the around 1,800 planes produced to date have been exported to the west, and they are still in production in Romania.

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