Coroner rules mid-air plane crash death which killed Surfleet pilot was accident

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News from the Lincs Free Press and Spalding Guardian, spaldingtoday.co.uk, @LincsFreePress on Twitter
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The death of a Surfleet microlight pilot following a mid-air crash was accidental, a coroner has ruled.

Stephen Spavins (46) was killed on his commute to work at a funeral directors in Sandy, Bedfordshire, when his Kitfox machine hit a Cessna light aircraft on September 23 last year.

Neither pilot saw the other aircraft ‘in sufficient time to take effective avoiding action’.

Air Accident Investigation Branch

The crash happened at between 2,000ft and 3,000ft.

Both aircraft spiralled downwards and Mr Spavins crashed into a field near Rectory Farm, near the Black Cat roundabout on the A1.

The inquest heard Mr Spavins died instantly from multiple injuries.

The surviving Cessna pilot, Graham Waller, was flying to Sywell Aerodrome, Northamptonshire, that day.

He described seeing “a flash of red” before the crash and then struggled to pull his four-seater plane out of a nosedive.

An expert from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), Anthony Severs, told the inquest that “both aircraft were trying to take evasive action but they had just not seen each other soon enough”.

Bedfordshire Coroner Tom Osborne accepted the findings of the AAIB and recorded a verdict of accidental death.

In February, a report from the AAIB said the accident happened because neither pilot saw the other aircraft “in sufficient time to take effective avoiding action”.

Mr Waller told investigators he did not see Mr Spavins’ plane until it was about 20ft away.

The AAIB said a low sun position may have contributed to the problem.

Mr Waller said he suddenly saw a red, light aircraft that he “thought was climbing towards him”.

Considering a collision was imminent, Mr Waller pulled the control panel back and to the left.

He told investigators that he thought Mr Spavins had not seen his aircraft because he did not appear to have taken evasive action.

The AAIB said the tip of the right wing of Mr Spavins’ plane then hit the Cessna’s propeller.

Nearly half of the microlight’s wing was found over a wide area, suggesting the damage had been caused in the air.

Last September, a friend of Mr Spavins revealed he used to live in Sandy but bought a plot of land near Spalding so he could fly to work.