Stanton community speak of shock at death of pilot David Jenkins

David Jenkins.

David Jenkins. - Credit: Archant

A community has spoken of its shock after a respected Suffolk pilot died in a crash during a practice display in Norfolk.

David Jenkins of The Wildcats Aerobatics Team.

David Jenkins of The Wildcats Aerobatics Team. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press � 2013

Tributes have poured in for David Jenkins, in his 60s, from Stanton, who was flying an Edge 360 plane during a media event on Wednesday to launch the Old Buckenham Airshow when he failed to recover from a spin.

Mr Jenkins, who was a member of the Wildcat Aerobatics team, was said to have been one of the leading aerobatics pilots in the UK.

Last night, chairman of Stanton Parish Council, Kelvin McDonald, said the parish council’s thoughts went out to Mr Jenkins’ family.

“I think the community will be shocked. It’s another tragic accident involving somebody losing their life, which is not nice in any community; you don’t have to know them.”

Stanton borough councillor Jim Thorndyke added: “It’s really sad and my thoughts are with the family.”

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His death is not the first tragedy to have hit Stanton in recent years; in 2012 midwife Hannah Seeley, 23, from the village, was killed in a crash on the A143 at Pakenham and in 2011 brothers Thomas, 26, and Daniel Hazelton, 30, and their workmates Peter Johnson (PJ), 42, from Stanton, and Adam Taylor, 28, from nearby Rickinghall, died in an industrial accident in Norfolk.

A neighbour of Mr Jenkins’, who asked not to be named, said: “I only learned about it on the news this morning [yesterday]. It was a terrible shock. We would often see him flying. He would do loop the loops over the house. It was lovely for us to see that as well.”

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She said Mr Jenkins, who is understood to have three children, had always been “really helpful” as a neighbour and very supportive with her children, for instance if they needed sponsorship money.

“He was really very kind and good with the children,” she added.

She said Mr Jenkins and his wife Elaine were “really peaceful” and “quite quiet” people.

“I hope the family can find some comfort from each other. We are thinking of them,” she added.

On Facebook, RAF Lakenheath said: “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the loved ones of pilot David Jenkins, as well as our friends at Old Buckenham Airfield. Such a sad loss for the aerobatics community.”

The aviation community have been mourning the loss of Mr Jenkins, with tributes flooding in.

Wildcat Aerobatics said Mr Jenkins - Wildcat 3 -began competition aerobatic flying in 2004 and went on to become one of the leading aerobatic pilots in the UK, earning the title British Aerobatics Advanced Champion in 2012 and 2013.

The team said: “David joined Wildcat Aerobatics in 2013 to bring a new dynamic to our existing two ship display by flying his Edge alongside our two Pitts Specials. We were honoured to fly alongside him.

“David was highly respected on the ground and in the air and will be greatly missed. His family and friends are very much in our thoughts, and we ask that you respect everyone’s privacy at this difficult time.”

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) have been informed about the crash.

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