July 31 2014 Latest news:
Monday, March 31, 2014
Two men were killed when a light aircraft burst into flames as it crashed into a field in Essex.
The pilot and passenger were travelling in a Yak 52 plane when they got into difficulties at around 2.55pm yesterday (Saturday) after flying out of North Weald airfield.
Witnesses described how the training aircraft had been attempting a somersault before going down in a rural area between Ongar and Writtle, near Chelmsford.
The aircraft was “completely alight” when firefighters arrived at the scene near Cooksmill Green, Essex Fire and Rescue Service said.
A spokesman said: “On arrival the incident commander reported that the plane was completely alight. Crews used foam and had extinguished the fire by 3.55pm.”
Paul Aston, from the church at Cooksmill, said: “It sounded just like a road traffic accident. There was the sound of a light aircraft then this crump and then silence. There wasn’t a bang.
“We have lots of light aircraft fly over us, it’s nothing abnormal.”
North Weald airfield is owned by Epping Forest District Council.
Deputy Chief Executive of the council, Derek Macnab, went to the scene soon after the incident.
He said: “People at North Weald Airfield are shocked and dismayed following reports of an aircraft crash at Cooksmill Green earlier this afternoon.”
Details are yet to be confirmed but our thoughts and condolences are with the family and friends of those involved.”
A police spokeswoman said: “Emergency services rushed to the scene and fire crews extinguished the fire caused when the plane crashed. Two men, a pilot and his passenger - both from Essex - were on board. The plane had flown out from North Weald airfield.”
Sam Gildersleeve, from Ongar, said he was having lunch with friends when he saw the plane flying low close to the A414 near Cooksmill Green.
Mr Gildersleeve told the BBC: “At this point we all looked at the sky and the plane attempted to do a somersault unsuccessfully, we heard a popping sound and noticed the plane did not re-emerge.
“We then noticed smoke coming from the site in the field where the plane had crashed. Shortly after the emergency services appeared.”
Police said that immediate family of the deceased had been informed.