Tributes to glider crash pilot

GLOWING tributes have been paid to an aviation enthusiast who died after his glider plummeted 300ft to the ground just moments after take-off.Father-of-two Peter Manley, of Clare, sustained multiple injuries when his DG600 crashed at the Ridgewell Airfield, near Haverhill, at the weekend.

GLOWING tributes have been paid to an aviation enthusiast who died after his glider plummeted 300ft to the ground just moments after take-off.

Father-of-two Peter Manley, of Clare, sustained multiple injuries when his DG600 crashed at the Ridgewell Airfield, near Haverhill, at the weekend.

In a statement from the family, released last night, the 74-year-old was described as a "loving husband, and proud father and grandfather", who would be greatly missed.

Mr Manley, who was selected for RAF officer training on the Isle of Man following his national service basic training, moved to Wickhambrook, near Haverhill, in 1956, when he was stationed as an officer at RAF Stradishall.

Following a long career in both the aeronautical and automotive industries, he finally retired to Clare in 1999.

His family said: "He was a very clever and practical man who would do anything he could to help others out.

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"He loved living in Clare, where he made lots of good friends. He was very much loved and respected by everyone who knew him, and he will be greatly missed."

Forensic experts and investigators from the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) spent Sunday examining the wreckage of the glider, and a report into the incident is expected to be produced within the next few months.

Mr Manley's tragic death mirrors another incident at the airfield five years ago, when retired local government officer Graham de Orfe's Slingsby Swallow glider crashed just after take-off.

It is thought Mr de Orfe may have fallen ill during the flight and could already have been unconscious when his glider crashed.

Chris Nicholas, vice president of the Essex Gliding Club, of which Mr Manley was a member, said: "Peter has been a well-liked and respected member of the club for the past 30 years.

"Gliding was a big part of his life and he was an aviation enthusiast. Most people love flying because it gives them the opportunity to see the world from a different view.

"This kind of tragic accident is a rarity both within the club and the sport but there is always a danger with anything involved in movement.

"Peter was noted for being an expert on the technical side of things, and did a lot of maintenance work. He used to be an instructor and he has helped a lot of people learn to fly in the past. It is all very sad that it should come to an end and members are very upset."

Mr Nicholas added an internal investigation would be carried out to determine whether any lessons could be learned from the accident.

"At the moment I think I can say satisfactorily that we have not found anything wrong with the way we run our operations, and we now just await the details of the AAIB report," he said.

An AAIB spokesman said: "We will examine the wreckage and talk to people who were on the ground when the glider took off, and look at any weather patterns and anything else which could have contributed to the accident.

"We will then make recommendations to improve safety if need be."

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