'No specific cause' of fatal plane crash

AN investigation into a light aircraft crash that killed a Suffolk garage owner found no specific reason for the accident, an inquest has heard.

Mark Lord

AN investigation into a light aircraft crash that killed a Suffolk garage owner found no specific reason for the accident, an inquest has heard.

Stephen Cowham, 40, of Wingfield near Eye, died while performing aerobatics for friend Alan Smith, who was celebrating his retirement from Diss auctioneers Gaze & Son, in the village of Hoxne in July 2006.

Mr Cowham, who owned a garage near Fressingfield, died after losing control of his 1993 Slingsby Firefly, which spiralled to the ground and burst into flames.

His wife Joanne, their two children and his parents were watching the display when the crash happened.

At yesterday's inquest held at Lowestoft Magistrates Court, Greater Suffolk Coroner Dr Peter Dean recorded a verdict of accidental death.

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He said that investigators could not pinpoint any specific reason for the accident.

The official report by the Air Accident Investigation Branch said nothing indicated there were any mechanical problems with the plane, he told the hearing.

Dr Dean added the results of a post-mortem test did not suggest Mr Cowham had any medical condition at the time of the crash.

He said that Mr Cowham's May Day call was also detailed in the report and that his last words were “in a spiral dive and cannot recover”.

The coroner said Mr Cowham had obtained his private pilot's licence in 2005 and had 83 hours of flying experience. At the time of the crash he was not wearing a parachute, but Dr Deean added it was not clear that if he had been, there would have been opportunity to abandon the plane.

Dr Dean said the report by the Air Accident Investigation Branch has recommended that pilots undertaking aerobatic training should be advised not to fly solo until they have been trained and proved competent in recovering from spins

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